What is going on? One minute your child is a sweet faced toddler and then the next minute they are acting like a moody teen! My 7 year old daughter has perfected the eye roll and the one word responses and our relationship had started to take a turn for the worst. Were we going to have a non-existent relationship? Not on this mom’s watch! Here are the steps I’ve taken to end the arguing and help rebuild and rework our relationship.
1. Stop Nitpicking
I find myself expecting a lot out of my oldest and I tend to forget that she is just 7 years old. This puts a lot of pressure on a small child, especially if there are younger children who need more assistance and time from you. My daughter tells me that I take care of her younger sister more and she just doesn’t think it’s fair. She is right, but instead of taking care of them in the same way, I have to find ways to make my oldest feel just as taken care of even though she doesn’t need me like her younger sister does.
Nevertheless, I found myself barking orders all of the time. “Do this, now go put this away, why would you do that?, you know better.” It’s always something.
But, one thing I learned when working with kids, the more I tried to control every aspect of what was going on by constantly telling them what to do, the more stressed out I became and the more defeated the kids were. Once I started to let go and stop being so picky, I started to notice not only a change in the kids but I was also a lot less stressed.
I put this experience to use. It is a work in progress but I’m holding my tongue a lot more (it has to become a habit before it feels natural). My kids are less stressed and so am I!
2. Positive Affirmation
More, more, more, like annoyingly over the top positivity. Especially when they do something on their own that you are always nagging them for!
“great job cleaning up after yourself, what an awesome thing that was for you to help your sister, I appreciate how much you helped me today!”
If a child is never hearing how great they are, how will they know? The more positive I am with my kids the better our relationship gets and the more loving and kind they are. This also helps build their self-esteem and self worth which is extremely important for everyone!
Yes, you’re the parent and what you say goes but you don’t want to be a “dictator” either.
I realized this the other day. What’s the first thing a marriage counselor usually suggests to fix first when a relationship is in shambles? Communication! You have to communicate what is going right, what is going wrong, what you need, what you don’t need, etc. Many, many people are not great at communicating and it’s because they weren’t taught by their parents at a young age what that even means.
I sat my daughter down, and for the first time, I had a “real” conversation with her. This takes practice because as children are learning about themselves, emotions, actions, they can’t always pinpoint why they do the things they do. You, as the parent, don’t have to come off as an “expert” either. They just need to know that you’re there, you’re willing to listen and you will do your best to always empathize and try to understand what they are feeling.
After talking for awhile, we decided, collectively, that I wanted them to focus on following directions better and my kids wanted me to focus on giving more hugs throughout the day. We would do this for a week and then check in with each other to see how we did. I thought it was important to start off with one focal point each so that we were not overwhelmed while trying to make positive changes.
This is an ongoing process for us but this morning, I woke up and laid in bed till my children got up, I waited for them to come into the room and say “mom are you ready to get up, we’re hungry” but they never did. Instead, I heard them whispering and they quietly went out to the kitchen and worked together to get themselves breakfast. I listened as I heard my youngest say “we just need to help mommy out cause she is always doing so much.” I really wanted to go out and help because I wasn’t sure how they would leave the kitchen (that’s my nitpicking at it’s finest) but I waited until they were done. When I got up, the first thing I did was be extremely positive and appreciative of them and their kindness towards me. I wanted to make sure I sent them a ton of positive affirmation because I truly did appreciate not having to hear my first words of the day be “mom we’re hungry!”
Each day is a choice. Each day is a clean slate. We make mistakes, we’re human and no parent is perfect but as long as you keep trying for yourself and your family you will get there together! One thing you have to remember, is that just like any relationship, your parent/child relationship will be evolving and changing every day. You just have to accept that things will not stay the same and do your best to continue to work and grow your relationship with your child, just like you would do with any other significant relationship in your life.