Monday, March 18, 2013

Let it Roll...Preschool Style...

You know, as draining as it can be, I love the baby stage. Apart from colic and the hours Hubby and I have spent passing fussy upset baby back and forth: I still love the baby stage. Okay, I hate teething too, and all the night waking that involves.  But still: Baby sad? There is almost always a simple solution.

Then toddlerhood arrives, it's a bit more work to calm them and help them stay content. The whining involved with cutting molars is pretty awful. But it's okay... Generally, some time nursing (or all your time nursing, as the case may be), a snuggle, getting outside- there are things that calm the wild teething beast.

And then they turn three. Joyous three! Boastful Three! Bright and curious THREE! Three year olds are so very quirky, the two I have experienced so far have these funny almost OCD rituals, and habits.

But you know what is the hardest part about three year olds (and some times this hits at 2 too...It did with my second)?
Suddenly it's like your Mommy gift for fixing all things, is broken. Like, demolished. They are standing their fuming and screeching and nothing you do, say, or don't do or say can fix it.

And it sucks. Because you love your little growing human person so very very much. And it's then that you realize. You can't fix it. They are becoming their own person.

Here is the thing, their feelings are all their own. And that is when the dance begins, or more, you realize you've been missing the beat. The dance between wanting to solve their problems for them...And stepping back and saying, "We have trust between us. I trust you to figure this out."

Letting go doesn't always feel good. Letting go hurts. But it's so so important that you realize that THEIR FEELINGS ARE THEIR OWN.  It's not  our job as their parents to "make them happy"...It's our job to help them find their own happiness. That their feelings belong to them and only them.

Some times letting go means saying "That's too bad that you can't do __________. How can you fix it? Would you like some ideas?"
or " I know you're angry. It is so hard! But you may not scream at Mommy it hurts my ears. I love you. I will help you when you're ready..." and either walking away or biting your tongue and disengaging.

Their feelings are their own. It's not our job to fix their problems. To mold the world to conform to all their wants and desires. It's crucial that they learn,  "this sucks, I hate it- it isn't what I want!!! But hey, look- I am ok...If I calm down I can come up with a solution!"

In that process there is a lot of venting (ie., tears, yelling, frustration). There is sadness and disappointment over not getting what they wanted. Those are their feelings, and that is okay. Disappointment happens.

Some times it means making physical space from the child.I am pretty firm, you cannot scream in my face about it- I will not be held hostage by your big feelings. I will snuggle you to help you calm down, or you can go have it (alone) out in your bedroom.  Some times it means hugging them tight and whispering, "I love you always, I'm here when you are ready."

This age, I struggle with. My current three and a half year old is big on sizing up situations. She is the ultimate middle child and she wants all things to be fair and good and right. When some thing seems off she has great big feelings about it...Stormy stomping, (truly) sad pouting, loud frustrated feelings.

And oh the classic three year old "I want that, no this, no THAT. NOOOOOOOO!!!!

It is insanity to try to understand them. The best you can do is let it roll off your back. Their feelings belong to them.

And that is what I'm learning right now, in the throes of my second three year old experience.

It's her job to make herself happy. It's her job to find solutions to her problems. It is my job to listen. Talk less. Listen to my heart. Trust her. Love her.

What would I want some one to do for me when I'm so over whelmed I can't think  straight? What would be *best* for me in that situation?  Bottom line, I would want to know that I was loved even when I was acting ugly. I would want to be treated with kindness.

What is loving in the long run? 
Because this is the beginning, the beginning of her journey to being her own person. If I dive in and try to fix it all I will
 1. just make it worse (really, in those moments, there is no winning- there just isn't). 
2. show her I don't trust her to learn and grow

3. I could set her up to think that she HAS to feel HAPPY about every thing in her life. That isn't reality. I want her to find ways to accept disappointment and cope with it. Because that is a big part of life. That IS life.

So, just let it roll...Say less. Listen more. It's not your problem. And Let it roll...

I love my Friendly girl... All her 3-ness too!

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