Something I hear from parents a lot is “this is exhausting.” When I hear that, I smile my best smile, tell them, “I know” and then tell them that is NOT going to change. The right answer, the strategies that work, are also exhausting. It takes energy. It takes time. Two things you say you don’t have, but here is the reality: you are going to spend BOTH either way you look at it. Why not do it in a way that you end up exhausted and HAPPY rather than exhausted and ANGRY.
Is this behavior thing easy? NO. Does it take work? ABSOLUTELY. Are there short cuts? NOT REALLY (by the way, you could spend months and Donald Trump’s trust fund on short cut remedies if you want…I’ll see you when you get back).
Now, here is the good news/bad news:
GOOD NEWS: if you spend the energy and time in the right direction, things will get better and you will have to spend less and less time and energy on maintaining appropriate behavior.
BAD NEWS: if you don’t do this, and you continue to spend your energy being frustrated, staying in the abyss of punishing bad behavior after bad behavior, 1) the behavior will not likely improve and 2) you will continue to be more and more exhausted. It will not magically get better as a result of “maturity,” “going to school” or “dad coming home.” Sorry.
Take home lessons:
- Get up from the couch to prevent kids from fighting before they fight (you know when it is going to happen, but crossing your fingers and turning up the volume on the TV has not worked yet). AGAIN…You are going to get up in a few minutes anyway when your daughter’s head hits the wall, right?
- A few minutes of prevention can make the difference between exhausted/happy and exhausted/angry.
- Stay active. Down time is an enemy. The older your child, the less you have to attend to this, but then again, the trouble a 10 year old can get into in 15 minutes can be pretty wretched too.
- Simply recognize the effort is going to be there one way or the other. Spending it in the right direction makes all the difference in the world, for your child AND YOU!