Parenting is hard, I’m just going to go ahead and lay that out there. If someone says it’s easy, they are straight lying and you need to RUN from them. Children are some crazy little people at times and truthfully it feels like they are just gaslighting you to make you lose your sanity even faster.
I have professionally worked with young children for 10 years now, and before that as a regular babysitter. This means I have also worked closely with parents all these years. I see each family’s good and bad days, and many times have been there with them as they go through it.
My professional passion is children, their parents, and educators. My research thesis when obtaining my Master’s was on collaborative efforts between educators and parents of young children. I strive to be there for everyone from home to school.
Over these 10 years I have seen a recurring theme pop up. Many parents struggle to parent their child and it’s not the child’s fault. Parents aren’t parenting the child they have, they are parenting the child they want.
Parenting The Child You Have
Before you become a parent you dream up these ideals and scenarios in your head of who your child will be, how you will be a parent, and how your life is going to be.
The chances of your child coming out how you envisioned are so small though. Plus, we are changing constantly. What used to not bother you, may bother you 10x more now that you’re a parent. Some children are the complete opposites of their parents.
You want a good child that listens all the time, never makes a mess, and gets along with everyone. Instead you have a child that seems to have selective hearing, can make a mess from just looking into a room, and who somehow cannot seem to get along with a single child. You try to stick to the tactics you had planned and how you think and want to parent your child. But these don’t work for the child you have. What are you to do then?
We also have to remember that children each have a different personality. Sometimes our personalities may just not mix well. You have to figure out how to step back yourself to be there for your child and their personality. You have to adapt yourself to the situation, not the other way around.
I want to be clear though, this post is not for parents of children with severe issues that truly need behavioral intervention and extra assistance. This is for regular parents who are suddenly finding themselves overwhelmed with their child’s personality and how to work with them.
One of the most humbling aspects of parenting is knowing when to accept that you are wrong and try to fix yourself, not your child.
Parenting the child you have means adapting your ways, not theirs. It means accepting that your practice isn’t working, seeking new ways to parent, and doing trial and error until you find what works for you both.
Struggling To Find The Right Way
Parenting the child you have can be a struggle. You may not even know where to begin.
Sit down one night and write down everything you know about your child. Their triggers, their moods, what calms them, what makes situations worse, do they listen to one person more than another? You may start to see a pattern. If your child is in daycare, preschool, or elementary school you should speak to their teachers. Learn about how they are at school. It’s okay to be honest with your child’s educator. That’s what they are there for, plus they may have some great ideas for you to use at home! I can guarantee you, your child’s teacher will know a lot more about your child and their behavior than you may think.
Once you can get a grasp on who your child truly is and where you can adapt it’s time to start applying new parenting tactics. This may be gentle parenting, it might mean sitting down with them in time-out/time away and discussing with them why they ended up there, it could be reducing screen time in the evenings to wind down easier before bed. There are thousands of articles on the internet and books in the libraries and stores. All of these are filled with great ideas! Look into those and apply to what your teachers have said too.
Another great option is your child’s pediatrician. Yes, the pediatrician is there for your child. A good pediatrician will want and be willing to help you too though. Pediatricians are advocates for children, which means they have the resources to help you out since you are the parent.
Approaching How To Parent The Child You Have
None of this is going to happen over night. This is going to require patience on your part as the parent. Trial and error is going to be the best approach. There may be setbacks, and that’s completely okay. Just keep pushing through until you find a method and routine that works for you and your child.
Some of the benefits included with parenting the child you have are: a better understanding of who your child is, your child recognizing that you see them for who they are, a more prepared approach when it comes to school work as well as life hurdles, and an easier way of communication with your child’s educator.
If you are able to understand who your child is and how they operate, that will make it so much easier to talk with your child’s educator on how they too can help your child.
Again, this is no easy task. This can take a lot of self-reflection, patience, research, and acceptance. Parenting the child you have though, that makes you a great and understanding parent. That shows the depth of love for your child, that you realize their needs come first.