Your child is just turning 4 years old but in those 40-plus-months you’ve encountered many, many issues that question your parenting skills. You’ve read parenting articles- some worked, a lot didn’t. You ask yourself- Is it me or my child?
Trust in Your Child’s Goodness
Model graciousness. Nicole Schwarz, a parenting coach and author of Positive Parenting for Imperfect Families, says to treat each time uniquely. Await and accept that your child may have a different response.
Be steadfast and keep your calm.
Stop that voice that says, ‘Matigas ang ulo. Nangiinis na naman. I have repeated myself a hundred times. Kailan pa sila matututo ako nalang gumagawa ng lahat.’
(He’s being stubborn again; he’s testing me again. When will they learn if I do everything for them?)
A father shared with me his story with his daughter, aged 3. He was seeking ideas to make eating time more ‘bearable and easy’ for both him and daughter as he stays with her in the mornings. The daughter wants to do things more independently now, like hold her glass and eat using her own set of utensil. Some days it gets slow, with much food left uneaten. Most days it gets messy and difficult.
On those difficult days, they find themselves in a power struggle, and Dad raises his voice. It ends the fight, daughter is crying, food is eaten, but Dad ignores the utensils thrown, milk spilled on the floor.
Now, with lots going on (I brought to his attention different aspects of their eating time), he is most concerned about his daughter refusing to help out with the cleaning after.
It is hard to focus on different details in that short eating session, but it helps to know what happened before and during.
Let’s say we are having the same scenario. Your child knocks the glass and milk spills, and you are caught off guard. You think, ‘What should I do next- explain to her why she needs to clean up, tell her what happens she doesn’t clean up? Count off and say a threat after?
When you say that it's okay that she has spilled the milk, MEAN it and feel it in your heart that it's really okay. The important thing is your child didn't get hurt.
Get the rug, (and get her one too so she can help you while you model) and say, ‘It's okay, accidents happen.' (even in your mind you think of all the unfinished chores).
Most importantly BE SINCERE.
A present parent doesn't mean you don't have expectations. Or that you are being permissive. That you'll clean up after them each time. We must have limits as those are going help direct them in the future.
This time I call you to be present and in that moment. Still, carry on that loving approach.
Being present here means you know what to do next when the expectations aren't met, or you get an unexpected result.
If you think you've run out of solutions, have faith that even if next time he still doesn't do what he’s told, he WILL because he is pure.
HE WILL because he has a good heart and you have given yourself the POWER to BELIEVE again no matter what.
Trust in the goodness of each time, in the goodness that is your little one.