The hardest thing about raising kids

familyWe all know that raising kids is challenging at times. No doubt.
Nanjing Night Net

We can get frustrated by all the chores associated with raising kids – cooking, feeding, washing, cleaning up muck and mess from every surface of the house, tidying up toys and clothes from every corner of the house, driving our kids here, there and everywhere, and so much more.

We can also be challenged by our child’s behaviour – whinging and whining, not listening, tantrums, fussy eating, leaving a mess everywhere, not sleeping, biting, yelling, not taking responsibility, not going their chores … and the list goes on.

But when we think about these challenges, we often overlook the most important factor.

The absolute hardest thing about raising kids is having to take on/deal with/manage our children’s emotional lives. This is how it manifests:

•Your baby is feeling overwhelmed so she cries and cries• Your toddler is frustrated that he can’t play with that truck so he bites the other child• Your preschooler is annoyed that she can’t have another chocolate biscuit so she whines and complains• Your school age child is angry that he has to do his chores before bed so he tells you that you’re the meanest parent that ever lived• Your teenager is upset that you won’t let her go to a party so she calls you a bitch and slams her bedroom door  

We are dealing with their emotions every moment of every day. Kids don’t have all the skills they need to manage their own feelings and emotions so they cry, lash out, complain, yell at you, blame you, and call you names.

Taking on other people’s emotions can be draining, exhausting, and downright difficult. Whinging and whining and constant crying can wear you down, and being called unpleasant names can be very hurtful.

So what can we do to overcome this most difficult of challenges?

Acknowledge that your child is learning to manage their emotions

That’s why it can be good to name the emotion or feeling for your child. When your baby is crying, you say, “I know you’re tired. Let’s put you to bed.” When your toddler is biting, you say, “I know you are frustrated but biting is not appropriate. Use your words if you would like a turn with the truck.”

The more we name our emotions for our kids, the more they learn to identify them for themselves.

Keep the bigger picture in mind

Your child is having a moment where they are overcome by their emotions. No, their behaviour isn’t appropriate, but if you understand what’s happening you can respond in a more constructive way. Instead of getting caught up in their emotion, you can focus on helping them through it.

Be aware of your own emotions

Do you blame others when you’re feeling angry? Do you lash out when you’re feeling hurt? Do you complain when something doesn’t go your way? Become better aware of your own emotional reactions, and be a good role model for your kids.

And one more idea that can help: don’t forget to take advantage of all the other wonderful emotions you share with your kids – the joy, fun, delight, pride, excitement, sense of achievement, inspiration, contentment, hope and love. They make it all worthwhile.

Jodie Benveniste is a psychologist, parenting author, parenting expert, TEDx speaker and director of Parent Wellbeing.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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