Don’t tell anyone but from the moment I got this gig, I’ve been desperate to make it easier! I launched into it armed with my years of nannying and thought “Sit back, everyone I’ve GOT THIS!”.. well, it turns out my gung-ho confidence made it about 10 times harder for me to accept that being a parent is tough!
It’s beautiful and extraordinary but let’s face it, you are shaping a human being and you have to make massive decisions every day that may/may not impact their entire future. You have to do all of this sometimes on 2-3 hours sleep and throughout it all, you’re still just you. A human being.
But so are they.
I didn’t have an exact parenting-style I was planning to adhere to. There were certain things I was clear on and I was trucking along as (what I hope was) a pretty decent parent until we hit age 2 and I found myself, once again, out of my depth!
A friend put me on to a page which helped me further hone in on a style, I wanted to be a Peaceful Parent and things were going ok but there didn’t seem to be a lot of room for error. Luckily in amongst it all I was led to a site called Aha Parenting where I found a one-size-fits-all amazing parenting approach with plenty of “dust yourself off and try again” advice.
You don’t believe me do you? There’s no such thing! You can’t say THIS child will respond to something when they are completely different from THAT child!
However, all children have one thing in common. They are little human beings and we brought them into this world by a choice we made at some stage or another. They are human beings who come out of the safety and warmth of their Mother’s womb into a world that is busy, confusing, scary and has rules that even us parents don’t understand half the time.
Then they develop the same emotions we have. Big, overwhelming emotions that are often too much for adults!
The one-size-fits-all parenting approach is “parenting with empathy”. You put yourself in your little ones shoes and see how they are looking at a situation. When you do this enough, you start to understand and connect with your little one and then you know how to lovingly set limits and boundaries together.
Children naturally want to please their parents, it may not always seem like it but they do. This desire is often at odds with their quest for independence or their poor impulse control (which doesn’t fully develop until age 16 and is practically non-existent under age 3).
So choose your battles. What are your non-negotiables? If it’s dangerous, is there a safe way to engage in a similar activity and are you able to redirect the situation? Spend a lot of time using play as an outlet for “undesirable” behaviour and for power-reversal which is a great tool to help them feel like it’s not always us vs them.
The four most invaluable resources I have come across are the aforementioned website (http://www.ahaparenting.com), www.handinhandparenting.org, Peacful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr Laura Markham, and Playful Parenting by Dr Lawrence Cohen.
Like all parents, we are not perfect. There will always be moments you are not proud of but I can honestly say this approach turned my life around just when I needed it and having used it from birth with my second, I can see the difference. It all comes down to remembering that they are people just like us and we are their whole world.
Aunty Ask is here to help so please feel free to contact me here or via Facebook if you want help integrating this parenting style into your life. Your questions may be invaluable to others doing the same!