In today’s world, parents often juggle multiple responsibilities at once and feel pulled in many directions. When you have a child that struggles in any way, this can make things even more stressful. In these moments of stress, as we are rushing from point A to point B, it can be easy to lose your cool. When my son was 4 years old, I worked at a residential hospital for teenagers and had a very rigid work schedule. He had to be dropped off at school by 8:30, I had to be at work by 9:00, I couldn’t leave until 5:00, and he had to be picked up by 5:30. My husband was deployed overseas at the time, so my life had to run like a well-oiled machine and be manageable as a single parent. This created a great deal of stress in my life!
One morning, like most mornings, I was rushing around desperately trying to get us out the door on time. My son was struggling to get ready and did not want to brush his teeth. He was in the bathroom playing in the water instead and when I came into the bathroom, I lost my cool. I remember seeing myself in the mirror, yelling at him to brush his teeth, tears running down his face! In that moment, my heart broke and I thought, “What are you doing?” This moment changed my life because I realized that no matter how stressful or busy my life was, that my son needed me to do better!
Unlike adults, children are not driven by the stressors of the outside world. They are driven by the stressors that we create and/or allow to be present in their lives. Because of this fact, the quality of our relationships with our children, are vital. As parents, we help our children learn how to create meaningful relationships with others, including their environment and themselves. Children learn this by watching and listening to us and the lessons that we model for them. In order to help our children form quality relationships in their lives, we must start by creating and modeling healthy relationships at home.
Parenting is hard, can be stressful, and no one is perfect! In these moments, it is important to remember that children communicate through their behavior and often, when they are seemingly being difficult, they are asking for connection in the only way they know how. So, when you find yourself in a stressful moment and on the verge of losing your cool; step back, take a deep breath, and then respond instead of reacting. Make the relationship the focus of every interaction and things will begin to change.