One thing I have learned from being a parent is that you always have to be on your game. By that I mean, just about the time you think you've got things under control, some new problem or behavior crops up.
Many of you have read about the challenges I faced as a parent with my son in this post. While it was difficult to go through at the time, we came out on the other side in a much better place. Never, I say never did I think, however, that I would go through it with my daughter. She has always been such a sweet child! Always loving, giving and sharing. Easy to redirect. Respectful.
Needless to say, that is not the case at the current moment. The tables have turned and my once "easy" child has turned into a parenting nightmare. It's like some horrible deja vu. Sassy mouth? Check. Defiant? Check. Destroying property? Check. Demanding? Check. Physically aggressive at times? Check. I got the whole package. Sigh.
I'm not sure why, but for some reason it seems more difficult this time around. Could it be that with the passage of time, the pain of this experience with my son is somewhat diminished? Could be. Or is that this change happened so suddenly that it caught be off guard? Perhaps. Or maybe this is just a sign of the things to come raising a girl. That is a truly terrifying thought.
So, here we go. Again. The battle began about a month ago and up to now, I have not been winning. To be honest with you, my energy level has been quite low lately which, unfortunately for me and my daughter, has led to me falling into some old parents that are, um, to say the least not positive in nature. So what to do? While I haven't worked out all of the specifics right now, here is what I've come up with so far:
1) What is going on with her?
- It is near the end of the school year. That can be a tough time for kids, e.g., the anticipated change in routine, lack of contact with friends, etc. Ask any teacher and they will tell you kids seem to go crazy in the weeks leading up to summer vacation.
- She's been complaining of inability to sleep well at night and stomach aches. Perhaps some of this moodiness is related to some undiagnosed medical condition, virus or maybe even allergies. Just to be safe, we have an appointment scheduled with our physician.
- Lack of attention. She has alluded to feeling that her brother is getting all the attention. While I would normally brush this off as sibling rivalry, my husband and I realized that we have not given her the same opportunities as our son when it comes to extra-curricular activities, e.g., sports, etc. Not that this is the only way to get attention, but you get more opportunity when your parents are going with you to ball games, practices, etc.
2) What's going on at home?
- Lots of changes in our routine. My husband has been gone in the evenings as he expanded his business hours at the restaurant. Our son is in baseball which means games two nights each week. I've been doing multiple parenting classes and workshops each week which has meant the she has had less time to chill at home.
- Less family time. We've fallen away from family movie nights and game nights. Time to get back on board that bus.
3) What's going on with me? TOO MUCH! Reflecting back on the last month I see that not only have I been gone more frequently due to my personal business, I really haven't been spending the quality time with her that we once did. I can't remember the last time she and I had a date night or did our nails. I, myself, have been feeling stressed and cranky. This has led to a lack of effort on my part to deal with these troublesome behaviors. Before I get any raunchy e-mails about this, I am not making excuses but rather am acknowledging my error.
Now that I've sat back and actually looked at the situation, I feel better equipped to deal with the behaviors in a more positive way. I'll talk about what I've done so far in my next post and if it has led to any changes...