2 weeks ago · lizzie · 0 comments
Are we expecting too much from our children?
It’s interesting to note that we have moved from the period of children should be seen and not heard, to a period of constant worry if we are not paying our child/ren 100% attention all the time, in order to create highly intelligent, high achieving and super healthy children. Yet parenting has never been more confusing and there are a million different theroies and new research released every day on the ‘best’ way to raise a child. In one culture, children should be carried on their mothers backs until the age of one; in another culture children should be encouraged to be independent from as young as possible. So who is right?
Child behavior problems
As a parent you want the best for your child. But today there has never been more expectations on how a child should behave and on the best way to parent. Parents judge themselves too harshly, judge other parents too harshly and judge their children too harshly, based on the latest research and on their own values, culture and person experiences of child raising. A good example of this is when a child misbehaves in public. Parents are usually mortified because they are:
a) worried about what other people might think of their child or their parenting skills
b) worried there must be something seriously wrong with their child who has behaved like this repeatedly in this environment, or
c) worried about the outcome of the tantrum.
However, often we as parents often don’t stop to think about why our child is acting out, because we are all just doing our best to ‘get it right’. Parents look around and see others children behaving well and we make assumptions that our child is being naughty, but we are only seeing these other children in a very minute moment – in fact all children have tantrums from time to time.
Raising kids – the learning curve
I have 2 children. My eldest daughter is generally pretty well behaved, now that she is 8 years of age. However, whilst generally delightful, my youngest child (a toddler) has developed a habit of running away in public and throwing huge tantrums in public when exhausted. Until recently I tried my usual tactic of remaining calm during the incident, removing my child away from the environment and then calmly addressing what just happemsd. Of course this did nothing to stop the behaviour happening again. So I’ve been thinking and thinking a lot lately about what’s going on.
Being the second child, she is often forced to do things that are not suitable or fun (such as collecting her sister from school open waking from an afternoon nap). So this is always going to be a ‘danger zone’ as we navigate other school children, passing by the playground and paying attention to when her sister exists class. Being with our friends is another ‘danger zone’ because we need to share our attention. Shopping is also a ‘hot spot’ as we are distracted by shop assistants, and so on.
One thing research tells us is that children are attention junkies. They do not have an off switch. They have a thirst for knowledge and play and want to always be the centre of attention. So I thought back to all ‘danger zone’ episodes to see if I could find the pattern and it was very clear – REDUCED ATTENTION or STIMULATION…
So what is the answer?
The answer is not to work out ways to change her behaviour, but rather what I can do to involve her so she feels her ‘attention junkie’ is being fulfilled? So I decided to trail a different approach during our weekly market shop. Normally, I am chasing after her from a stall – at least once during our shopping trip. So first I needed to tire her out and then I needed to get her involved. The first thing we did was visit the animals at the market. This satisfied her energy levels enough to get started on the shop. Next we found her very own cane basket and spoke about all the veggies we were collecting. Then she was in charge of the money and the shop was completed without a glitch.
This experience taught me that the pressures placed on parents to be perfect leads us to assume we must be doing something wrong if our child misbehaves, or that our child is just really naughty. But I don’t believe this is true. I believe children are sponges and love to be the centre of attention. We can’t always give it to them and there are times we need a break, but if we take charge and involve them in as many activities as possible, portentially unstimulating activities can become engaging for you and save you running after your child or dealing with a tantrum in public in the future. Then you and your child will feel much more relaxed and be happier too.
“Research shows when a mother’s parenting style matches up well with her child’s temperament, the child experiences half as many symptoms of anxiety”
If you would like to know about how your child’s temperament may affect his/her behaviour, download a copy of my free ebook here on How To Become An Empowered Mum here
Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Personal Development Coach & Author