One thing that is sometimes difficult for me to wrap my head around, is the observation that our children’s behavior is a form of communication.
Particularly true of small children who are doing their best to communicate their needs to us, while not always having the words they need and or a regular dose of our full attention.
So, just a word to the wise, as I have learned the hard way many times, if a child is acting out, often it is a plea for your attention and your help.
You might ask yourself, “Am I preoccupied most of the time, or even a good portion of the day? Or am I pretty present in the time that I spend with my children throughout the day?”
You might look for signs of your own preoccupation with projects you’re excited about or work or even something as simple as your phone. Those signs might be that you don’t consistently look into your child’s face when they are speaking to you. You may have to ask them to repeat themselves multiple times before you really hear what they are trying to tell you. You may not realize that your child hasn’t been dressed for the day until after lunchtime or that they haven’t had their hair combed in a week. Or you may find that your frustration level is skyrocketing as you are trying to do several things at once and your kids seem to be blocking your progress.
My friend, as C.S. Lewis beautifully said, “Children are not distractions from more important work. They are the most important work.”
As we grow-up more ourselves, we realize that:
1 Babies and children are not trying to sabotage our efforts, they are simply trying to get their needs met.
2 When kids receive our freely given, undivided attention on a regular basis, the more they trust that their needs will be met, and oftentimes, as a result, their behavior magically calms down. They may be striving with all they’ve got to get you to notice them! And giving them regular attention is much more rewarding for both of you than cleaning up crazy messes made from radical behavior! The deal is, one way or another they will turn your head, now or in the future.
3 Children feel loved by being cared for, such as being clean, brushed, groomed and clothed. It doesn’t take much time, but it makes a big difference!
4 As a caregiver, having your needs met is equally important! But you are the one in charge of that care too. It’s part of growing up to learn to care for yourself.
I hope that these thoughts offer a little insight to those of you who are in the trench right now! Keep moving forward and take life a day at a time…and slow it down to an hour at a time when you are sleep deprived!
P.S. If you are an intense person like I am, know that your intensity can totally overwhelm a small person who doesn’t go at your speed! They are going to be listening for your vibe maybe more than your words (as a friend kindly pointed out to me!) so practice calming yourself down instead of getting more intense when you seem to be at odds with your child. That little piece of advice is golden if you’ll give it a try.