Parenting is Hard
You are not alone if you’ve ever thought being a parent is difficult. Kids can be needy and demanding and drive you crazy! Whether it’s because of misbehavior, nagging, endless activities, and entertainment, you need a break once in a while. It’s up to you how long you take. To be clear, this is not a punishment to your child or a failure on your part to be an amazing parent. Instead, this is an opportunity to reset and re-engage your children with a rejuvenated attitude. Don’t feel guilty for needing some time apart. If you and your child are locked in an unhelpful pattern of arguing, stress, frustration, or misery, you may both need this to come back with a new outlook on your relationship and better ways to handle conflict or stress.
Learn Strategies to Make Parenting Easier
Yelling, shouting, threatening, or punishing can seem like the easiest, most direct, and effective way to manage difficulties with your child’s behavior. It can feel instinctive, and you may not even realize what you are doing. You are also not necessarily searching for feedback about whether it works. You want a reaction from your child, and that is to stop what they are doing – now! When this doesn’t work, you may find both of you escalating in behavior. You can probably attest to the poor results this brings, as well as the resentment and anger that multiplies.
Many children do not have the tools to seek out positive attention and reactions from their parents. So when you yell, they yell. Instead of remaining stuck in this pattern, you can explore ways to talk to your child about their behavior, listen and respond to what they say in an understanding and empathetic way, and develop positive behavior strategies that work.
There is tons of research on the effectiveness of positive reinforcement models and how they work for families. These models include developing consistent and easily accomplishable goals for your child and achieving rewards when they have mastered them. With a good plan in place, your child knows what to expect, that they will be heard, and will benefit from following through on achieving their goals. This will lessen conflict, build trust, foster independence, and reinforce a positive relationship between you and your child.
Ask for Help
If conflict or difficulties are escalating, you may need support. This could include reaching out for help from the other parent, a relative, a friend, another trusted adult, or a mental health provider. Assistance may be in the form of respite from parenting duties for a time, help with implementing parenting strategies, and emotional support for the difficulties you are experiencing. It is a virtue to know what you can manage and how to problem-solve to improve circumstances. We do this all the time in our work, including collaborating with others to solve a difficult problem. So why not treat parenting like other areas of your life? You may not have all the answers now, but resources and other people can support you and your family.
Let Yourself Relax
As you take a break to recollect your thoughts or embrace new strategies, remember to take time to do things you enjoy. Whether you go for a walk, do yoga, knit a scarf, or spend time with friends, make sure that this is an activity that will be relaxing and not more stressful. Remind yourself that you were a child once, and then an adult, before becoming a parent. You may have had other interests, other goals, and other dreams. However, now you are a parent with a responsibility to care for, protect, and raise your child to the best of your ability. Remember why you became a parent or what you love about being one. Then all yourself to feel the longing and motivation for your relationship with your child to grow, and what you can look forward to enjoying with them now and in the future. Keep this in mind if you start to become overwhelmed again. You can also regularly build in time for yourself to continue to recharge and refresh.