Pick your battles

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This is something that has become my daily mantra. There are so many things not even worth fighting about with our kids, that it is only natural that you learn to take it easy and let it go. For your kids’ sake. For your own sake.
When kids have too many rules, too much is expected of them (most likely, unrealistic things), they hear too many ‘NO’s and ‘STOP’s, they start either tuning you out or fighting you back. There is only so much negativity you can take in one day from the same person. I see it from my own experience as a child when my mom expected too much, demanded too much, yelled too much when we didn’t deliver and, as a result, I started resenting everything she expected of us. Until this day, whenever she starts a sentence with “I’d like you to…” I automatically think, “No way”!

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Relax and let them explore

You know these parents who can never relax and always tell their kids to stop doing things, to be quiet, to not run/jump/climb, to do everything exactly the way they are told, etc. They are the ones who stress out the most and end up cutting their kids’ and their own fun short. They are the ones who struggle with controlling their kids and end up yelling/punishing/feeling embarrassed in public.
You know, if you lower your expectations, accept the fact that kids need to explore without being told what and how to do all the time, then you will have a more peaceful life, and your kids will start enjoying theirs more, as well.

Recent example. My kids had a play date at our house and ended up dragging a huge cardboard box, that I set aside for recycling, into our good-sized inflatable pool. The old me, two years ago, would have freaked out and yelled at them, and taken the box away. The new me did freeze inside for a second, but then let go and kept enjoying the day watching the kids explore. They had so much fun, first, trying hard to push the box under the water (good work-out). Wasn’t happening while the box was dry and mostly empty. Then they watched it slowly get wet, and become easier to destroy (science experiment for you right there). Then they started tearing it into pieces and throwing at each other, and making pancakes with the mush (sensory experience). Finally, I checked the pool and discovered that it would take some time to save it, so I involved everyone in helping me out. They got a butterfly net, a bucket, and a colander. Who wouldn’t want to help with such great tools, right? We had another experiment seeing what worked better, and then they wanted to switch with each other to try everything at least once.

Bottom line. Would they have learned all that about cardboard and water had I stopped them in the beginning of this activity? Probably not. After all, no great scientists or curious minds, in general, could grow up in households with too many restrictions, rules, and off-limits simple yet fun objects. Can’t say I was too thrilled about spending an extra 30 minutes clearing the pool that day, but I felt satisfied with my decision, still.

Please, relax more and let your kids explore. This is how we learn about life. This is how we discover new better ways of doing things. This is how you just might end up watching your kid get a Nobel prize for something great in the future. Not that it is important, but thought I’d throw the thought out there. Hint, hint.

Relax and potty-learn

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Potty learning. You either love it, or hate it. I think you hate it more than you love it, right? Power struggles, rewards that backfire, charts with stickers, hours spent on the potty reading books and playing with toys and still nothing, etc. Does it really have to be that difficult? Guess what? It DOESN’T. Relax, take it easy, don’t pressure yourself or your kid, forget stickers and candy (especially candy), make it as natural as it actually IS and SHOULD BE.

I have two kids, I was scared with my first, we had a million accidents all over the place when she wasn’t ready yet, she had “number-2-phobia” for a long time, but we made it, eventually. We didn’t use rewards, I let her decide if she was ready or not, especially with our phobia, we didn’t stress (too much) when things weren’t working out, but she was happily using the potty during the day by the time she was 2,5 y/o, and also at night by the time she was 3. Now, with my second we didn’t even try hard. It is summer now, it is hot, he is naked most of the time, he was watching his sister use the potty, he started asking to go himself. Just like that. I think it took him about 2-3 weeks to master the skill, and we use diapers only at night with him now. He is 25 months old now. So, again, no pressure, no rewards or punishments, no mental games. It IS possible. And there shouldn’t be any specific age when you start feeling pressured to “train” your child. Just watch for clues, and be supportive and patient. Good luck.

Here is something that I think makes sense to me, and something you all might find interesting.

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Listen to children more

We should always try to understand why our kids do certain things before jumping to conclusions, or getting irritated and angry at them for the things they do. Children have their reasons, toddlers have them too, they just can’t explain them verbally yet. A lot of things make a world of difference to a child, no matter how silly and insignificant it seems to us. We should try to be more flexible, try to see their point, be more understanding and compassionate in general, and be willing to improvise if we have to.

Just one example that taught me a lot about listening more. My son was not 2 years old yet and he couldn’t talk well. Then, one day this spring, my husband took his lawnmower out for the first time this year. My son had a fit, he would scream and run towards it, and want to use it, and cry because we couldn’t let him, obviously. This lasted for a few hours and everyone was getting stressed and tired, especially my son.
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