I turned 23 not too long ago. My life is just beginning, in a lot of ways. I’m not married (yet) and I don’t have children (yet). I am in a wonderful, incredible relationship, though, and of course that sets me to thinking about the future. Who I want to be as a wife, as a mother: it’s a clean slate. I haven’t made any mistakes in those fields yet. And I’ll be honest, that really scares me sometimes.
I know that life is messy. I know I’ll have victories and I know I’ll have failures. Everyone likely goes through similar thoughts and fears. For me, I love to learn. Doing research on random topics is probably one of my favorite hobbies.
These days, it’s not so random. Much of my research is on weddings and pregnancy and parenting. So today, when I came across an article that I’m going to share with you, please, parents, don’t ignore it just because I don’t have kids. I rolled my eyes at the title, yeah, because if you can’t smack your kid, and you can’t put them in timeout, then what are you supposed to do? I read it anyway, and it gave me such a simple answer. What do you do? You treat your child like a person. You wouldn’t hit an adult, hopefully. Sadly, you can’t put adults in timeout, either. When you’re at work, and your coworker is being such a pain you want to kick them where the sun don’t shine, what do you do?
You take a breath. You calm down. And you try to communicate. As awful as they’re being, you treat them as a fellow human being. I mean, you could also punch them, that’s definitely an option, but unfortunately society doesn’t let us get away with that. Unlike your coworker, children haven’t learned how to communicate. As a parent, isn’t it the job description to teach them? Here are two of the paragraphs that struck me most, if you don’t have time to read the whole thing:
“Misbehavior contains an important message for a wise adult. Children don’t have the self-awareness or the communication sophistication to know what’s going on or to explain. So, ask yourself what the child is trying to communicate: Hunger? Exhaustion? Need for a hug? Anger? Boredom? Jealousy? Overstimulation? Discuss your hypotheses with the child, and see what you can do to solve the problem together.”
“As much as possible, let natural consequences happen. If a child refuses to wear a raincoat on a rainy day, remind them of the consequences, but let them get wet if they insist. The younger they are, the more you’ll have to be ready to intervene before it goes too far (after 15 minutes of getting wet, say), but nothing works better than natural consequences.”