Why Parenting Can See So Hard
Susie E. Caron (c) 5/20/16
Nobody told you it was going to be this hard – parenting – raising good kids.
Remember when you discovered that you were going to become a Mommy or Daddy? Remember how you felt - full of hope that you & your children would enjoy each other. You just knew they would grow up to remember how good you were to them and love you forever.
What happened after they reached ages 3, 4, and up? Were your hopes and dreams shattered? I hope not. However, if you are feeling discouraged, I’m about to help you.
Here’s the scoop: It’s not your fault and it’s not their fault either. You and your children may not get along from time to time because you are each under the influence of your own dilemmas. At those times it looks like you are ‘fighting’ each other, but each child and parent is also dealing with their own, unconscious, internal conflict. This is what makes parenting so hard and causes you a lot of stress and confusion. However, understanding how these conflicts influence you and your kids can help you parent with less stress.
Let me clear this up for you.
Here’s the parent’s conflict:
You want your kids to grow up while you secretly wish they could stay yours forever.
Here’s the child’s conflict.
Children are born with two strong driving forces: the drive to grow, expand and conquer, and the need to be protected.
Now, because you are an adult, you can handle your conflicted feelings. Just recognizing that they exist helps. It’s equally important for you to understand your children’s conflict and how that influences their behaviors. Then you will be less likely to take most of their resistance personally and parent them without feeling guilty. (It is futile to explain their dilemma to them. They can’t understand it and as I will explain below, they will still be driven.) However, when you understand, it can make parenting them easier for you.
Here’s what’s going on inside your kids.
As I mentioned, children are born equipped with two, strong, conflicting, instinctive drives: First to grow and second to be protected.
Drive #1: To Grow
The instinct to grow drives them to expand, grow, challenge you and everything they encounter. It’s not conscious or intentional. It’s built into their DNA and becomes their “Modus Operandi”. (MO). They continually test their abilities. They grow bigger physically. They take over more space in their environment. They take things apart and stick things into other things. They make messes, and also accomplish many wonderful things. They instinctively want to figure out and conquer everything. They reach, grab, crawl, sit, stand, walk, ride bikes and drive cars. However, while they're doing all this, they challenge you, everything and everyone to test themselves, their strength and understanding of the world.
This drive never diminishes. It continues to grow stronger with each passing year. In fact
Their drive to expand, grow and challenge becomes more dominant over time. That’s how they become adults, go to college, join the military, get jobs and marry. However, when this drive is active in childhood, they resist everything you do. They act as though you are interfering with their freedoms. In fact, most kids grow up holding onto a secret fantasy - that they really don’t need you and they could admit it, their motto would be, “Feed me and get out of my way.” This is why you can feel challenged, pushed, and just plain tired.
Whenever they seem to fight you they are often struggling against their second drive – to be protected.
Drive #2: To be Protected
The instinctive need to be protected, functions to keep children closely tied to the parent to help insure survival. Kids instinctively know they are dependent on you for their care and safety. This need is the strongest at birth and diminishes over time. You can see kids driven by this when they are really tired, struggling with friends, school, whining, whimpering and behaving as though suddenly they regressed into more babyish behavior. When their need for you to take care of them erupts in later childhood, they fuss about doing chores, completing homework or taking care of other responsibilities for which they are entirely capable. This dependency is adorable while they are infants and babies. However, it is upsetting to parents who wonder things like “Will they ever grow up?” and “What am I doing wrong?” or worse yet, “Has something horrible happened to my child to make him/her act this way.”
So, what makes raising kids hard?
As a parent, you want your kids to grow but also to be happy. At times you probably feel conflicted, confused or worried about how to raise your children. It’s difficult to be a good parent and know what to do. That’s your struggle.
Kids struggle too. They don’t come into your home dreaming of blissful family life with you. They are driven by the need to grow, which gets stronger, and the need to be protected which gets weaker. They want to grow up, leave home, do their thing, but at the same time they want to be babied and kept safe.
These are the reasons for their resistances and why parenting sees so hard.
There isn’t an easy solution. However, now that you understand your own conflicted feelings and how your kids unconsciously struggle with two opposing forces within, it can be a bit easier for you to 'parent' them. It's your right and responsibility. You can make good decisions, discipline them, comfort them, and do all the things you know you want to do to help them on their way to maturity. Now you can do it all without taking their thoughts (words) feelings and behaviors personally.
Parenting is a job, a great job and one for which only you are well equipped to do with your children. Take it seriously, but at the same time have fun and enjoy your kids as much as you possibly can. When they resist, decide whether it's time to comfort or to be 'matter of fact' and say something like "This is how life works, so get on with it."
Recognize it’s as difficult to be a kid as it is to be a parent. So when the kids push you or pull you, resist you or want babied, don’t take it personally or feel guilty about the decisions you make. Just do your best for them and you will be the best parent you can be. Who knows maybe by the time they turn 32, they’ll even let you know that you were and continue to be the best parent ever.
Twee’ means you and me,
Working to raise good kids.
Essential Safety Games To Play With Preschoolers
Susie E. Caron 5/6/16*
I posted this blog first in *2014, but it’s so important to keep kids safe, that I re-post it at least once each year.
If you have young children play these three games with them until you are sure their responses become automatic. Play each game at least 3 times the first week you introduce them. Then repeat occasionally just to ensure their responses.
Children need to play! Did you know that games also benefit their development?
Playing these 3 games with your young children may also help you keep them safe.
Everyone enjoys playing Peek-A-Boo with babies because it makes everyone laugh. This also helps to generate your baby's feelings of health and safety, but there are more reasons.
Peek-A-Boo builds your baby's awareness that objects continue to exist in their environment, even when they cannot see them. This includes YOU. This awareness is also the foundation for the next two safety-based games for young children. So go ahead! Play Peek-A-Boo with baby.
2. Quick! Run to Mommy (or Daddy) Game*
In this game you teach your child to quickly run to you! (Note: see * below for suggested titles to call this game with your child.)
If you make your child's "Run to Mommy" response automatic and the child is rewarded for running fast to you, your child will be more likely to respond quickly, in situations that could be dangerous. For example: You can use this when your child gets out of sight in the grocery store.
How to teach Danger! - Run to Mommy!
I learned this game from a friend. She taught her toddler that when she said certain words,
"Poo Bear", he was to respond, "Tigger too!" and he would immediately run to her to be safe.
As you practice at home, with a toddler, it's best to offer a treat, like stickers, or a small cracker, for running back to you. This makes the game more fun and rewarding for the toddler to play correctly and to run fast!
Consistently using key words in this game can help keep your child safe. Your child's words help you to locate him/her. Your child's words also triggers action: running to you quickly.
*NOTE: If you don't like the words my friend used, you and your child can come up with your own words and responses. Pergaps you could select words from your child's favorite Twee' book. You could say "Twee' Means" and the child says "You and Me!" and returns to you immediately. [I couldn't help myself.]
3. Automatic - Hide and Go Seek
In this game you must find your hidden child.
Note: Play this game ONLY AFTER your toddler has a rapid response to Run to Mommy (or Daddy etc.). Then play Automatic - Hide and Go Seek often.
Reasons to play:
When children actually become lost, they FREEZE while they LISTEN for you to come and find them. The result is they don't know to call out to you, even if they hear you searching nearby. You child doesn't realize that you cannot see him all the time. He also doesn't realize that if you cannot see him, you won't be able to find him unless he calls out to you.
How to teach Automatic - Hide and Go Seek.
Tell you child, " I can see you most of the time. However, when you hide behind a couch, chair or in another room, I cannot see you.You are very important to me, so I always want to find you. So when I can't easily see you, I will say "Where Are You?" then I want you to call out "Here I am." Practice this in the house at first. Remember to reward your child as soon as you find him/her.
After you've practiced for a few minutes a day, over a few days, then tell your child, "Now that I know you will say 'Here I am!' to help me find you, I will let you hide longer. Remember when I say "Where are you?" I want you to yell out nice and loud "Here I am!"
Play these games with you children to instill some safety skills, for a little peace of mind and always share some fun!
I want to read your thoughts about this post, so leave me a note below.
Remember Twee' means You and Me,
Playing games with young children for safety.
Little Red Steps
Susie E. Caron © 4/21/16
I was not yet 3 years old when I painted the steps. However, I remember like it was yesterday.
We lived in a second floor apartment with outdoor steps to the ground. In my memory, I can see myself in short coveralls and bare feet, inching down the wooden stairs. I’d been told to ‘go play outdoors’. (Things were different in 1952.) To my surprise, about ¾ of the way down, I came upon an open can of red paint and a big wide brush. I figured that our landlord was going to paint the stairs, so I took the opportunity to help him.
While I struggled to manage that big, big, brush, which became very heavy when I dipped it into the paint, the Landlord arrived at the foot of the steps.
“Oh no, little lady,” he said, as he took the now sticky brush from my red stained hands. He carefully balanced the brush on the edge of the can. Then he took my clean hand into his, and helped me climb back up the stairs. “Your Mother is not going to be too happy about this.” He said, shaking his head.
She wasn’t. When she arrived to the other side of our screened in, green, wooden door. She smiled weakly at him and told him thank you, but immediately began scolding me.
She commanded me to ‘stand right there, young lady,’ and added ‘don’t you move.’ Suddenly afraid, I wanted to bolt down those steps, but I stayed rooted to the spot and began to cry. In a moment, she returned, still yelling at me, with rags and a can of something that smelled so bad it stung my nose as she opened it.
On our open deck, she roughly stripped me of my short coveralls and Tee- shirt. Next she plopped me upright into the small, empty, wading pool. Apparently I was a total mess, and the worst was yet to come.
Mother began scrubbing me; my legs and feet, hands and arms, face, head and neck with a rag dipped in turpentine. (Back then there was only toxic oil based paints, so she had to remove it with turpentine.)
She was rough and she kept yelling at me about paint, and money, and you'll be sorry and other scary things that an almost 3 year old could never understand. I remember that I was terrified. My mother was very angry and my skin stung from the turpentine and from the harsh rubbing it took to get it off. I remember when she finished that, she filled the small pool with the hose and commanded me to stay while she bathed me in the cold water, along with some soap. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day.
Please note: I was not abused. My mother did what she had to do to get me cleaned up. If she hadn’t, I could have suffered lead poisoning or even died. I am retelling this story as I perceived it in my child’s mind, because I want to illustrate how it affected me then and what I gained from that experience.
As I grew up I recognized that my Landlord and my Mother had reacted very differently.
Every time I recalled that event, I wondered “Why?”, "Why did the Landlord and my mother react differently"?
I was the same child. The steps were the same steps. The paint was the same red paint.
(Except that it wasn't. I was informed that it was actually green paint, but I believe that it changed in my mind because my legs and arms stayed red for quite a while after the scrubbing.)
Anyway, the only thing that was truly different were the reactions of my Landlord and my Mother. They had each responded in different ways to my behavior.
As a result of my experiences, studies, and work with children and families I've uncovered some basic truths.
Adults don’t understand children and children don’t speak ‘adult’.
Adults can choose how they respond or react to children’s behaviors.
At almost 3 years of age, I was already a person who wanted ‘to help people.’
I still do.
That’s why I write parenting articles and podcasts. I really want to help you understand your kids better, connect with them, gain their cooperation and have more fun.
That’s also why I write picture books for adults to read with their children. I want to illustrate how children think, how their perception of their world develops, and encourage you to talk about these important things with them. You can find them at SusieCaronOnAmazon.com
Do you like what I’m sharing? Is this helpful? Give me an idea what issues you struggle with and I’ll answer you. Just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, Twee’ means you and me
Choosing wisely how to respond to children
The amazing benefit of sunshine & toxic-fresh-air for kids & parents. by Susie E. Caron © 5/3/15
Did you know that fresh air can be ‘toxic’? That’s right! When kids or adults are outdoors and enjoying exercise, sunshine and fresh air, it can have one very toxic effect.
Here it is:
Fresh air, exercise and sunlight help your children fall asleep and sleep much better.
My husband and I joke about this effect on ourselves and we call it "toxic-fresh-air". Of course, I certainly hope the fresh air your kids are breathing is NOT toxic. Instead I want you to know that it has several benefits – sleeping well is one of them. Isn’t that something you want too?
It’s amazing how a little sunshine and fresh air makes everyone feel better. Even kids respond to more time outdoors. If you are a busy parent, working, grocery shopping, running errands, getting kids to sports and other events, you probably don’t have much energy left to keep kids off electronics and out doors. However, as I stated, there are some really good reasons you’ll want to.
Fresh air, exercise and sunlight help your children fall asleep and sleep better, plus other benefits.
Oxygen, and the exercise that causes more of it to be inhaled, has its own medicinal qualities. It clears their heads. It reduces stress and releases Endorphins, which is the body's natural 'feel good chemical.' Oxygen cleanses their bodies of toxins and chemicals that can make them sick. The running, and sweating and heavy breathing is also what contributes to feeling sleepy after they cool down and have a bath or shower. It works this way on adults too.
Sunlight is another sleep helper. When children and adults get enough sunlight in their vision, their bodies produce natural Melatonin. Pediatricians often recommend Melatonin for kids who have trouble falling asleep. This is also the same effect kids can get from drinking milk or eating turkey. However, they don’t have to eat anything, it just happens when ‘sun gets in their eyes.’ About 30 minutes every day is the right amount for Melatonin to develop in their bodies when the sun goes down.
Maybe you think, “That’s great. But how do I get them away from their gidgets and gadgets and outside to play?” The simple answer is to make a rule. For example: Every kid goes outdoors to play after supper. Or better yet “Everyone in this family goes for a walk or bike ride every evening at 6 pm.” Of course, if evenings are too difficult, then shoot for an hour or more playing outdoors on each weekend day. But first, make certain that all the electronics get dropped into a kitchen basket, (even the adults’ cel phones etc.) and go outdoors together. The time you spend out there together will be worth it. You will notice improved relationships and bonding. Time together in outdoor activities helps family members get to know and understand each other better. Furthermore, the quality of sleep you and your children experience will improve as well.
May all your ZZZZZ’s be sweet from fun times in 'toxic fresh air.'
Twee’ means you and me.
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!