I don’t know about you, but I feel like the sound of moaning and whining tends to have a direct line to triggering my “reptilian brain”. It’s hard to be rational when a tiny human is making the hairs at the back of your neck stand on end. So, why do they do this? And what can we as parents do about it?
Let’s start with the why. You see, as babies, the only way that our children could communicate that they would like anything to be different to the way it was (hunger, boredom, poo nappy etc) was by moaning or crying. So, once they become toddlers, unless we teach them a better way to communicate, they will continue to use what has always worked.
‘Tantrums come in various forms, depending on the child’s age, their temperament and the consistency in boundaries within your home,’ explains parenting coach and occupational therapist Celeste Rushby of munchkins.me, a collective of coaches who empower parents to help transform family dynamics for the better. She says that, despite all prospective parents dreading the ‘terrible twos’, tantrums actually begin at between 10 and 18 months.
Education and training are central to the modern, Western world. We go to school, invest in vocational equipping, and attend workshops to perfect our crocheting or to learn the art of home brewing. Within this culture of knowledge and skill accumulation, parenting is also increasingly deemed a worthy enough subject in which to receive training – hence the overwhelming ocean of parenting resources: from articles and books to DVDs and TV shows to workshops and courses! Ever heard people complain, “Kids don’t come with a manual!”? They lie. Kindly point them to the Internet or any given bookshop.
So, should parents “go to school”? There are many good reasons why we should consider it!
Let’s begin with a quick quiz!
Which description sounds most like you as a parent?
- I love to cuddle my children, I go out of my way to meet their every need and I tend to indulge them.
- I keep a firm grip on my children and enforce many rules in my home.
- I oversee my children’s lives, teaching them life skills and helping them apply these lessons.
- I support my children in everything they do, but I stand on the sideline and let them take ownership of their own lives.
- I love having fun with my children and spending time with them like I do with my friends.
Can you see yourself in one of these? Are more than one applicable to you?
Most of us have a preferred parenting style – a way of childrearing that comes most naturally to us. Yet, most of us can (and should learn to) adapt our style according to a given situation and our children’s developmental age.
Okay, so let’s unpack the differing styles and see where you fit in most comfortably.
“Discipline” has received swearword status in many modern parenting circles. It is now quite trendy to withdraw from being the disciplinary figure in favour of being a child’s friend. While this is mostly well intended (and evokes wonderful images of parent and child roaming around like Calvin and Hobbes all day), it can be harmful to both parties.
Imagine you came to a traffic light that flickered red-orange-green-red-orange-green. You’d probably be confused (Should I go or stop!?), and possibly anxious (What if I crash? I may be stuck here forever!).
The same process is likely to happen to our children if they receive mixed signals from their primary caretakers. Just like the faulty robot in the example leaves it up to you to decide when it’s safe to go, your child will also need to figure it out on her own. And “crashing” may be the result.
All of us hate red lights (Just my luck!), but there’s nothing like the stress caused by a broken robot to make us appreciate a light turning red when it needs to. There’s safety in this mechanism. Likewise, there’s protection in receiving clear-cut messages at home – even if it’s “no!”
The new school year comes with many stresses for parents (especially the newbies): lunchboxes to pack, school fees to pay, carpools to organise, school uniforms to launder, homework to help with…. and on top of that extra-curricular activities to choose and manage.
The latter troubles many parents due to the pressure these ventures place on our time, finances and sometimes even on the relationship with our children. We may ask, “What is enough or too much? Which activities are essential?”, and this uncertainty only adds to the tension.
Maybe we could simplify the matter. Let’s start by asking why we let our children participate in such activities in the first place?
“Grandparents” and “grandchildren” are two well-coined terms, as few relationships in life are so “grand” than the one between these two parties. However, for the parents sandwiched in the middle, this connection can sometimes pose “grand” challenges that may even result in conflict between the senior and junior adults.
Yet, if everyone involved is respectful, willing to compromise and able to focus on the privileges of the situation, the grandparent-grandchild bond could greatly enrich all three generations. To help with this, consider following the ABC for grandparents and parents below.
Having a premature baby is not something most mothers expect when they are expecting.
In most cases, there is not merely a premature baby struggling to survive, but also “premature” parents who feel unprepared for the sudden and overwhelming challenges of having a baby – and a highly fragile one needing specialised care.
I have spoken to several mothers who had prems. Following is a summary of their stories of bravery amid the ordeal.
“My kids drive me crazy!”
This is something most of us have said or thought at some point while feeling overwhelmed by the demands of parenting. Yet, many mothers stare more severe psychological problems (particularly postpartum depression) in the face and will need professional help to overcome this obstacle.
As mothers, we should all invest in our mental wellbeing by caring not only for everyone in our family but for ourselves too. In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month, let us consider various wellbeing protective mechanisms we should all try to build into our lives.