A battle is raging in our homes today. Fatigue wears at our spirits and bodies. We can sometimes feel defeated and wonder if we’re losing control. Can respect and joy, consistency and calmness, be our daily reality?
I’ve been on the losing side of many a power struggle. “Clean up on aisle 9 please! A Mama is having a meltdown alongside her toddler near the frozen veg!”
Have you been there?
There’s hope for us both, friend.
I honestly believe that we can raise the white flag over this battle, without surrendering our authority as parents.
“Choose your battles wisely”, is some of the best advice I’ve received.
It all comes down to understanding our kids and what they desperately need and want, in order to thrive.
Similar to adults, kids have substantial needs, beyond Maslow’s basics (shelter, safety, nourishment, warmth and rest).
Children crave attention, love, and empowerment everyday. We as their primary caregivers, are who they look to for fulfillment. Imagine three buckets, coloured red, blue and yellow with the words love, attention, and power, boldly displayed. Our kids carry these buckets around in their hearts everyday. Filled to the brim, and they will overflow with kindness, generosity, respect and obedience. Nearly empty and the very opposite will prove to be true.
What’s behind her meltdown? Which of her buckets is running low? Did I ask her how she felt today? How many choices did she get to make on her own?
These are the questions that are radically changing the dynamics of our home.
Stop, Think, and Talk. We teach our kids this dialogue at a young age. It can help them to learn to self-regulate their emotions and result in fewer tantrums. However, this time, I’m the student. Stop in the moment. Think about what’s behind her behaviour. Talk to her before I react.
I’m learning to fight for our kids, not just against their behaviours. I’m learning to prioritize their relational and emotional wiring, as much as I do their physiological needs. I’m learning that parenting can be less about a battle, and more about an adventure.
A few of our kids’ favourite bucket-fillers:
- To receive distraction-free “Mommy-time” for 15 minutes or more everyday
- To offer their opinion for everyday choices (groceries, family activities, giving, etc)
- To learn to cook simple meals, and be praised for being the Chef that night
- To develop and explore their God-given gifts, and to be publicly acknowledged
- To feel empowered to decide the order of the Saturday schedule (chores, outing, etc)
- To feel loved and cared for through hugs, snuggles, and back rubs everyday
- To feel listened to when their emotions get intense, and to be asked meaningful questions from a young age
- To receive a surprise note in their lunch or treat under their pillow during “secret servant” week
- To share the roses and thorns of their day around the table and feel heard
This journey is far from over in our home. We’re all learning and growing how to care for one another with grace and patience. To choose our battles wisely is a daily decision, to relinquish control, and to trust that when love wins in parenting, we all win.
Special Note: Amy McCready researches child psychology extensively, and her booklist below may explore some of these ideas further. Happy Reading!