When leaving Lauren’s house on Easter Sunday she commented that the biggest lad is such a good boy. To which I wryly replied ‘he has his moments’. Then someone observed, perhaps Lauren, ‘don’t we all’. That comment stuck with me. It really made me think about the expectations parents and other adults place on children. We all have our moments, but we tend to be critical of children’s less than charming moments.
While I’m not sure children can be inherently ‘bad’, I know what Lauren means when she says the biggest lad is ‘good’. He let his little cousin Rafferty use him as a climbing frame and pull his hair without complaint. He played Lego happily with Romilly even when she snuck off with all of the carriages to his train. Basically he was a happy and engaged kid. But he is after all, a little person. Sometimes he’s angry, frustrated, noisy, sad, bored, hungry (hangry) or emotional. Occasionally, the big lads Lego wont click together the precise way he wants, or I’ll outrageously offer to help him get dressed (why do I do this?). For the middle lad, his dinner is not served on his ‘incredible’ plate or he doesn’t want to get in/ out of the shower. These things are disastrous for a four and two year old. But maybe my expectations of the boys to demonstrate self-control are out of step with their actual development.
If I think about it, there are things in my adult world that cause me similar distress. Like when I stuff up when sewing and I have to unpick it or having a dozen conversations with the middle lad before he lets me change his nappy. It frustrates me. I don’t shout and cry but sometimes I might want to. The thing is, as an adult, I’ve learnt to largely control my emotions. I’ve had 30+ years of ‘self-regulation’. Even then, I often get cross when I shouldn’t. My point is, maybe we expect too much from our children. If adults sometimes yell and get mad (at the kids/each other) then can we really expect children not to do the same? After all, it’s those emotions that make us people. We all have our moments, adults and children alike.
Often, adults have rules for children that they themselves struggle to follow. If I have a rule I expect the boys to follow, I better try to stick to it. Or at least try to model good behaviour. I can’t expect the lads to always be kind to each other when I am not always kind to Mr Wallace. If I slam a door when I am cross, they’ll probably think that is ok. If yell when I am stressed or frustrated, chances are the little guys will think that’s acceptable. The lesson here for me is that as an adult I need to behave well. But I also need to be kind to myself and accept that often my parenting will fall short of my personal expectations.
All parents are of course people and people make mistakes. I’m sure every parent, if they are honest, has had parenting moments they are ashamed of. Or had wobbly days. I need to remind myself that my kids will make mistakes and have wobbly days and that is absolutely ok. They are learning and developing. Mr Wallace and I are learning too. Especially with the eldest lad, he’s our biggest experiment!
I’m not a parenting expert. I have three boys under five. I might be an expert at parenting my own children, but even that’s a stretch! If you are wondering in what the experts say you might find this article of interest.
What do you think? Should we be more understanding of children’s challenging behavior given we all have our moments?
PS ‘we all have our moments’ is my first ‘parenting’ post, I’m kind of nervous about it!