When you’re a parent, there are some things that you catch onto very easily – like, “Oh no! Little Timmy is doing his potty dance and he’s not wearing a pull-up!
I better get him to the potty right away!”
You’ve been potty training your child for a little while and you just know that when they stand a certain way, you better get going.
It could be a potty dance or you see a sudden gleam in their eye and you just know that they are going to try to dash across the street to pet the largest dog you’ve ever seen, so you grab onto that little hand before they can do something dangerous.
You know their cues because you’ve seen and experienced them before and it’s the same EVERY SINGLE TIME it happens, so there is no doubt about what will happen next.
Then there are things that you don’t catch on to right away.
“Little Susie has really been quite the drama queen. I wonder what her problem could be?”
Just like adults, kids experience a world of emotions.
A new baby can cause jealousy.
A new hobby can lead to fatigue and becoming overwhelmed.
Going to school every day can cause stress, anxiety, and burn out. Unlike adults, kids have little say in their social lives or ways to relax.
Everything has been put in order for them.
How Do You Help Your Child?
You realize that something is off about your child.
They’re more argumentative or more withdrawn. They’ve become very picky eaters or they burst into tears whenever something little happens.
Sometimes you may not even notice it, especially if they have become more withdrawn.
Sometimes their weird behavior is right up in your face and all you want to do is lay down some discipline, but before you do that, stop and ask yourself, “Why are they doing this?”
Recognize the Signs
My daughter is the middle child.
She has an older and younger brother and both of her brothers are over the top and in your face. My daughter is usually pretty quiet and independent, but sometimes she’ll get very moody.
I’ve learned to recognize her signs.
- Short tempered
These usually aren’t things that she normally does so when she does these things, I need to find the root cause of it.
Find the Cause
Why is my daughter behaving this way?
Sometimes I just need to ask her and she’ll say something like, “Mom, my brothers are annoying me!” Most of the time that’s true, especially since my youngest loves to play with her, but he likes to play rough.
Other times, finding out isn’t always easy because even she may not know the reason. This is when we (the parent) need to play detective.
- How long has she been behaving this way?
- Is this new and recent?
- Has she been behaving like this for a while?
- When did this start?
- Figure out if there was an event that led to this behavior.
- Have you been working too much?
- Have you been focusing on another sibling more than usual?
- Has someone been picking on them at school?
- Has everything been ok at school?
- Help your child identify their emotion
- Are they sad?
- Are they annoyed?
- Are they stressed?
Find a Solution!
Finding a solution can be the most easy and fun thing about this whole process and you can be as creative or practical as you want.
Example: Susie has been feeling burned out.
There is just too much for her to do. She’s at school five days a week, practice for college exams for when she goes to college in ten years twice a week (because you can never be too prepared), has church two or more times a week, is busy with homework every night, and she still needs to balance her social and family life.
Ok…. So this is pretty over the top for a grade school student, but I know that there are many kids who do have soccer practice and help volunteer and have very busy lives. What are ways that we can solve this?
- Ask your child if they enjoy doing all of those things. If there is something that they don’t like doing, like practicing for college exams, perhaps that is something that you can take out of their schedule.
- If your child seems to have too much homework to do every night, especially for a younger child, try talking to the teacher or school board. See if there is something that can be done so it isn’t too much.
- It’s ok to say no to some social obligations. We live in a world where people become so easily offended, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t say no. You need to do what’s best for your child.
- Take a break. Sometimes that is all your child needs. Give them a chance to be a kid.
Example: Susie has been feeling very left out.
Her brothers have been taking up all of your attention and if it isn’t her brothers, it’s been your phone or your job. She’s feeling pretty lonely and misunderstood.
Solution: Date night! Spend some valuable time with your child. Don’t ever underestimate how much your attention can heal them!
Ideas for a Date Night With Your Child
Get Dressed Up
If you have a daughter, she would probably love getting dressed up.
Find your nice clothes and dress up.
If she’ll let you, curl her hair, help her put on some light make up, and do a fashion show. You don’t have to go anywhere, but dote on her.
Teach Your Child Something
Kids are naturally inquisitive.
Teach them how to fish or how to make friendship bracelets. Think about the things that you liked to do when you were their age and teach them something.
- Teach them something silly-My grandma taught me how to make a belt with gum wrappers. I don’t remember how to do it now, but I loved learning it.
- Baking/Cooking- My mom showed me how to bake and cook. This was something I always enjoyed doing, so I took it over.
- Teach them a craft- My other grandma introduced me to crochet. I have a friend who learned how to make glass beads and another friend who was taught how to blacksmith.
- Teach them a new chore- Ok, this one seems weird because who likes to do chores? Not me! But if you teach your child a new chore, it gives them a sense of responsibility.
- My youngest really likes to pooper scoop. This is his chore and he’s proud of it.
- My daughter enjoys putting her clothes away.
Leave the House and DO Something
Go somewhere where you can talk and give your child your full attention. Remember, this is about them, not you.
Things you can do:
- Go out to eat. It can be Mc Donalds or somewhere fancy as long as it’s something your child would like and it’s affordable to you.
- Go grocery shopping-This is something that already needs to be done, but if you can take just one child, it can be more interesting than boring. Let them pick out some of their favorite treats for snacks this week or let them pick out something special for being good. Talk to them, ask them questions, be silly with them. They’ll enjoy the alone time.
- See a movie-You can either go to a movie theater and watch a movie with them on the big screen or you can rent one to bring home. Let them pick it out.
- Go to a park or zoo-If you go to the park, play with them. Remember, you’re trying to spend quality time with your child.
Do Something That They Like to Do
This is something that I struggle with doing because watching people play video games bores me to tears.
However, this is something that my son likes to do.
So, I probably won’t do this, but something that he likes to do that I also don’t mind doing is playing video games.
I’m a little out of practice, but many of the new Lego video games are pretty kid friendly and also have multiple player options. So playing a video game with my son, can be easy and fun.
My daughter likes to play with her stuffed animals and pretend that they are all orphans that need someone to adopt them.
She always wants to play this when I’m cooking or cleaning so when we are having our date night, we can settle down and play pretend.
I may feel like I have no imagination and that I’m bored to tears, but it’s something that she likes to do and so I could spare some time to do this too. It will also mean the world to her.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good snuggle.
Let your child stay up a little later than normal to sit with you and watch tv.
I wrote a post a few months ago about my son called The Snuggle Games.
It seemed that he didn’t want me anymore, but then one night, he kept sneaking into my room when he was supposed to be in bed. I was getting frustrated with him because I just wanted to watch my show and instead, I had to keep telling him to go back to bed.
Then it dawned on me that he wasn’t really trying to stay out of bed, he was actually wanting to snuggle like we used to when he was younger. I changed my show to something more kid friendly and told him that he could lay down next to me AS LONG AS he closed his eyes.
He gladly leaped into bed and snuggled in next to me.
He closed his eyes and just laid with me. When I had thought he was finally asleep, he giggled at what he heard on tv. We both laughed with each other and then went on with me watching tv and him pretending to be asleep.
Let me tell you something, his mood and attitude had improved so much the next few days after that. He was more helpful and he even came to sit on my lap a few times.
As a parent, you gradually accept the fact that your child won’t always want to snuggle with you and so sometimes you miss it when they want to.
We have to remember that kids are human, too. Just like we have mood swings, they will as well.
Think about how you unwind. You take some time to yourself or you go out and do something.
When we become attuned to our children’s needs, we can help them unwind.
You might even be surprised to see how quickly their mood can change from grumpy to happy. Sometimes they just need to relax and other times they just need to feel wanted and appreciated , too.
Have you noticed a pattern with your child?
What do you do to help your child relax?
When was the last time you spent some quality one on one time with your child?