🤱"Your Kid Calls You A Hypocrite?"

(6 Minute Read) Remember the last time you told your kid no and they said well you are doing it too and now you are embarrassed because your kid is right and now you don't know what to say?

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I was in the supermarket with my (then) three-year-old. I was in a bit of a rush and my son kept picking up things from the shelf. I was getting more and more stressed out by this, worried he would break something, or make a mess! I kept saying to him we don’t touch we look with our eyes and only pick up things we want to put in our basket. After maybe the third time of saying this my son looked at me and said, “But Mama you just picked up this tin can and looked at it and put it back”…and he was so right!

My son has multiple allergies so reading labels is an integral part of my shopping experience, I constantly pick up things and put them back… and this is what I was modelling to my son – and he was doing just what he, as a small child, is programmed to do – mirror that back! He wasn’t being naughty, he wasn’t running riot, he wasn’t dropping things or having a meltdown because I said no to something, he was just being curious and he was mirroring my own behaviour!

Here I Am Mirror GIF by Jeopardy!

Gif by jeopardy on Giphy

I spent some time reflecting on why this may have felt stressful for me. Firstly, I was in a rush and I think this often means that the small things can become more stressful, secondly upon reflection, I think I was also worried about what other people would think of me for letting my child take things off the shelf, would they think I was a bad parent, would the shop assistant comment, all of these were plausible reasons as to why I felt his behaviour was unacceptable.

Is it really wrong that my child wants to pick things up from the shelf in the store to take a look - should I not be modelling this to him? Is it my fault? Or actually, do I need to find a way to feel comfortable that what I am modelling is actually a great thing, but I need to teach him when it is ok to do this and when it isn’t? This internal conflict can be harder to manage than the behaviour itself, so what can we do to help ourselves? But before we continue this conversation, go support the sponsor we love today, here’s a quick ad for them.

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Firstly, let’s think about the child’s perspective of the incident in the supermarket. For him he sees mummy getting frustrated because he is doing something that she is also doing, and to a child, if there has not been some sort of age-appropriate explanation, then it can seem really unfair. And when young children feel that things are unfair and they don’t feel like they are being heard then this can cause some pretty big emotions to rise up!! I was fortunate in that my child was able to use this as a teaching moment for me! However, if this had not been the case, or if I had not been open to listening to him then it would probably ended up with a 3-year-old kicking and screaming on the supermarket floor!

Secondly, I will take time to reflect on the incident, in a moment of calm when I am not distracted by getting children home, dinner, etc… I will think to myself, what did I learn from this? How did this incident make me feel and what may this be telling me? I learnt that things are not always what they seem and I learnt that I have a choice!

When I am in a rush, or feeling overwhelmed I can consider whether I can avoid the supermarket altogether with my child, or if this is not an option, perhaps I need to explain that this time my child will need to sit in the stroller or the shopping cart rather than walking around the shop. With children of this age sometimes I give them the shopping list and a pen to tick things off so that they feel important, or I ask them to spot things for me as we go around. Then I make time another day to take my child shopping when I am less rushed and have the capacity to look at things with them, let them mirror me in the way I check labels etc (and let’s face it this is a really important skill to be teaching a child with allergies!) I teach them that there is a time and a place for exploring the aisles of the supermarket and taking the time to look at all of the things that we find interesting.

*Please give a gentle round of applause too…*

This is Parenting

By: Leslie Hannans

This is Parenting: Demystifying parenthood is a fresh, new take on an old tradition, Parenting! For centuries, parents have engaged in a long tradition of parenting, based on how we learned. But, have we questioned our parenting techniques? Have we thought critically about what our actions can do to harm our children? This is exactly what This Is Parenting explores. We will dive into behavior modification, origins of modern parenting, skill acquisition, and more!

I also learnt that I needed to work on my fear of judgement from others, contemplate my feelings of overwhelm, and try to recognise when my own issues are a bigger part of the issue than my child’s behaviour!

There have been many instances where I have felt very aligned with a parenting decision that I have made - breastfeeding my toddler for example, where I have felt sure it was the right decision for both my child, myself and my family, and yet I have not been as open as it as I would have liked because of my fear of what others would think. I think as parents we often struggle with our children’s behaviours not because the behaviour in itself is a problem but because of all sorts of external elements, and I have found recognising this to be really helpful.

Consider - are my expectations realistic and age-appropriate, have I communicated these to my child, and am I finding the time to meet their needs? Once I did this I was able to reduce my stress levels in the supermarket, and help my son learn some great grocery shopping skills!

You are all the experts on your own children but parenting can be hard, and we often no longer have the support networks in place that we would have had many years ago. So, if you are struggling please reach out, I would love to offer you my guidance, my thoughts and insights on the challenges and the joys that you may face as you build relationships with these wonderfully precious little humans on your parenting journey! It would be a privilege to support you, to remind you what an incredible job you are doing, and that you are not alone!

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