Saturday, October 10, 2009

Clever Thoughts: Taking the Long View

Some days, I despair that my children will ever be civilized. They fight, the whine, they scream, and they tear the house apart. I spend all day breaking up fights, cleaning up messes and putting them in time out. I come to the end of the day wondering what I have done wrong.

With my older son, I have found myself worried at every stage. I was worried he would never get potty training. I was worried he would never be able to make friends and approach other kids to play with them. I was worried he would never be able to pedal and steer a bicycle. I was worried he would not be able to handle a full day of school. And yet when the time came, and he was ready, he did every one of these things.

On my part, each of my son's successes has taken a lot of patience and consistent teaching from me (and unfortunately has also included a lot of frustration as I had to repeat myself again and again). But it has also taken a lot of trust and faith in his growing understanding of the world and innate resilience.

With my second son, I find that I am a lot more willing to take the long view. There have been a few times when he has started to potty learn. Each time, it has lasted for a few days, then he has gotten bored or interested in something else and I have ended up washing about 10 pairs of pants and underwear a day. With my oldest son I would have reacted with frustration. I would have yelled and demanded and lectured and spent a month washing 10 pairs of pants and underwear and scrubbing my carpet and wondering why my son just can't seem to "get it". With my second son, I just put him back in diapers and choose to try again later. Because I know that he will eventually be ready to go to the bathroom on his own, and I know the limits of my patience.

I am coming to believe that one of the crucial differences between an over anxious, frustrated parent and a relaxed, trusting parent, is simply taking the long view. I have learned to ask myself, "Is this just a stage? Will he still be doing this in 2 years?" If the answer is no, I have some patience with the behavior and do what I can to wait it out. If the answer is yes, it will still be a problem, then I try to stay patient as I teach my son that this behavior is not acceptable, and help him to learn alternate behaviors. Or I find out what I can do to help my son on his journey towards independence or skill building.

My oldest son has always been a kid with a low tolerance for frustration. Funnily enough, his mother was the same kind of a kid. Together, we're learning to banish the phrase, "I'll never be able to . . . " and are replacing it with the phrase "I'm learning to . . . ".

Do yourself and your kids a favor. Take the long view.

1 comment:

  1. yeah...long view should be my mantra too!

    i have 3 year old twins!!

    following you through under 100 followers club at MBC..i hope you do follow back




We'd love to hear from you. Email us with your feedback, suggestions and general blog love at