When I started this parenting journey over 14 years ago I probably could have made a few assumptions about parenting, how I was going to do it and what my kids would be like. I am not sure how many of the following assumptions would have been included, if any, but here are some things I have learned about kids and their behaviours. And here’s how I best think we tackle them in order to survive relatively unscathed.
They don’t generally enjoy having a tantrum and it’s not because they hate you, want to embarrass you or love the feeling of getting worked up in to a lather of tears, sweat and frightful emotion. They are more than likely wanting to express something, they are tired, or they just want to work out how far they can go with a request. Sometimes we gotta let them have that expression, sometimes we gotta look for the reasons why and help redirect the behaviour. Either way, don’t take it personally.
Your child will no doubt want to hang out in the places where their friends are hanging out…either real life places or online sites. Give them the skills to be safe wherever they find themselves. Wrapping them in cotton wool and trying to keep them safe and under wraps isn’t preparing them for real life.
Your child will say NO many many times a day……but so will you. In the end you will both be ignoring each other, so think of another way to phrase a negative response or give them another option.
Your child will like some warning about what is happening next. Kids generally don’t like things being sprung on them. A quick outline of whats coming up, maybe giving them some choices of order, or what happens after the ‘must do’ stuff, can make them feel like they are part of the process.
Your child will not be born with an understanding about how lucky they are to have everything they have. Teaching kids to be grateful is a hard task. When they know no different, we can’t just expect them to be thankful they have food on their plate when they are tipping it upside down off the high chair. These lessons must be learnt over time and by developing empathy, understanding and being alert to the world around them.
They will know your threats are often futile. Be wary of how realistic you are with your threats and your willingness or not to carry through with them. Kids learn pretty quickly which ones are lip service.
Wanting the blue cup instead of the purple cup does not mean they are going to be completely inflexible and demanding for the rest of their life. They just want that colour right then and there because they like it at that point in time. Your energy levels at this moment will probably determine how you respond to that. Remember sometimes it is about picking our battles.
They will make mistakes when they start using technology and interacting online. They will say the wrong thing sometimes, they will ‘like’ something they probably shouldn’t, they will forget that everyone could be watching and they will post photos of themselves and others that probably should be kept private. It’s up to us to help them learn these lessons early so they remain small mistakes not life altering ones.
They will surprise you. They will surprise you with the good stuff they do and they will surprise you with stuff you never thought they’d do. Be prepared to embrace the good and to learn from the not so good.
They will make you laugh, cry, they will exhaust, delight and enrage, but hopefully for the most part, they will provide you with more joy and love than you ever thought possible. So remember to enjoy the ride.
And as a bonus for those of you who have boys, here are a few more assumptions that I thought my own offspring may have bypassed but clearly turned in to absolute realities….. they like to wrestle, make guns from sticks, they like getting dirty, ‘boy smell’ is an actual phenomena and bum, poo, wee and fart jokes are still the funniest things ever!
What assumptions could you add that you may not have been aware of before kids?