The days are long but the years are short. It’s a saying people are constantly repeating. I agree; the days are long, and the years are short, but can we talk about how the years are also hard? Let me say that again: the years are hard! My husband and I joke that right now we are “going through the fog.” You get so used to going through the motions and just trying to get through things one day at a time that sometimes I forget to take a step back and be thankful for all of the wonderful things we do have.
Raising a child who is extremely impulsive, has a hard time sitting still, and also gets frustrated easily can add to the exhaustion. While I am fortunate that these are very mild issues in the big scheme of things, the day-to-day demands can still be challenging.
I know there are probably lots of other parents out there who get a knot in their stomach each time it is time to read their child’s daily behavior chart, but a lot of us don’t talk about it. It’s not every day, but it is a regular issue for us. I work hard not to dwell on it all evening because my child needs a mother who is still going to love on them after a long hard day. While we do talk about their actions and sometimes take away privileges, I have learned that I cannot make it the focus of my night during the short time I have with them each day. Because I’m a teacher I’m solution-oriented. Here are some tips I have started to use with my child:
Pick a Reward Each Morning and Talk About it Before School
I do not choose materialistic things, as I want them to know this behavior is expected. We choose things like bike riding, jumping on the trampoline together, creating dinosaur plans, and taking the ATV to a special place. Occasionally I will do Icees or snowballs, but for the most part I really try and make it about special time the two of us get to spend together.
Create a Behavior Chart That Has Visuals
Show them the chart at the end of the day and discuss their successful parts of the day, as well as the failures. I have learned that having a visual and talking about expected behaviors is so important. It allows us time to calmly discuss where breakdowns in the day occur and what we can work on in order to fix them. I also like to emphasize how proud I am when I read the good parts of their day. They need to see that you care about all parts of their day–not just the negative ones.
Maintain Your Control
Give up screaming and hitting. I’m not going to lie; this one can be hard for some. Through my little ones challenges, I have learned that spanking is ultimately not going to change their future behavior and speaking calmly is much more effective.
Give Positive Reinforcement and Praise
You want to consistently point out your child’s good behavior so that they want to continue it and eventually it becomes natural. Children are natural born people-pleasers. They want to do the right thing and make you happy. This does not happen overnight. It takes time–lots of it!
Communicate with Teachers, Family, and Friends who Interact with Your Child
Let them know you are having a hard time and would like help in monitoring these behaviors when you are not there. I am lucky to have great teachers and administration that are in constant contact with me and working hard to help my child. They understand that it will take time, patience, and lots of effort for my little one to succeed at school. I have gotten very valuable resources from them and as long as each party is consistent and doing their part, it can only get better.
As a teacher, I am a fixer; I always want to come up with solutions on what I can do to help children succeed at school and at home. I also understand that some positive behaviors just occur naturally for kids while others have to work really hard to accomplish those same behaviors. If your child is struggling and having a hard time, know that you are not alone, and reach out to those that can help you. The old saying, “it takes a village,” is definitely true and needed more than ever in this day and age.