Thursday, July 29, 2010

Communicating During The Terrible Threes, Teens, and Beyond

As a mom of six, I can confidently say that I have pretty much seen it all. Sicknesses, scrapes, tantrums, and even a couple broken bones have happened over the years. With kids, the things that you don’t expect are the personality differences that develop as your child grows. I have had a quiet baby, a social, outgoing baby, and a happy little guy that loves being cuddled. My three year old, however, is one of a kind.

He can go from being happy and loving to completely outraged in a moments time. I am pretty sure its common among kids, but three years olds are at an age where they are balancing between being a baby and being a kid. These mood swings have become common at my house. My son, Alex, can go from telling me how much he missed me to telling me I am a “Meanie Mommy” in seconds.

I have enough children at home not to take his sentiments personally, and I know for a fact that he is actually a sweet kid who loves his family. For a first or even second time mom, I know that it is hard not to have your feelings hurt when your baby suddenly turns on you for the first time. I think that these outbursts are actually an important part of growing up and learning how to assess and express your feelings.

As a parent, I feel that the best thing to do is talk to your kids about why they feel this way. At 3 years old, they may not be able to tell you but once they become a five year old, they will be able to tell you exactly what the problem is. It’s easy to feel guilty or sad when your child says they hate you, or that you are the meanest mom in the world. But what they are really trying to tell you is that they are frustrated, and just don’t know how else to say it.

I am also a mom of two teenagers, and let me tell you that being called a meanie may get worse before it gets better. Even at this stage, talking to your kids is the best way to find out how they feel. The change from pre-teen to teen was complete the day that I noticed my son, who is 14, no longer told me everything about his life. I was, and am, sad that he is growing away from me but I am also proud that he is becoming an adult. I know that once he is grown, he will open up again.

Communication is something that is vital for all relationships, and even more so with children. It may be hard to accept their feelings without reprimanding them, but honestly, they don’t hate you. Being a mom is never harder than when you have to stick to your guns, but I hope that later my kids will thank me for letting them express themselves. How do you communicate with your kids, whatever their age may be?


mamapoekie said... [Reply to comment]

First of all, I find it offensive to refer to any stage of growing up/childhood as terrible, and I am under the impression that people who expect terribleness eventually will end up perceiving it as such.
I do like, and agree with the way you handle things. Rebellion is a normal way of a child in the growing up process as a means to detach from their caregiver.
I find with my two year old that the only times she is acting the way that is perceived *terrible* by most people, is when I have taken a wrong approach. Thus, I need to change my behavior and adapt the way I approach her, instead of expecting her to adapt to socially acceptable behavior
Second, wow you have six kids, how great, I didn't know that (small instant of jealousy - jealousy over)

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