If you’re like me, the kids behavior can come and go and sometimes you get discouraged. Here are some ways to get through the tough phases until you’re in greener pastures.
Two weeks ago I just knew it.
I knew all 4 kids had been abducted by aliens and replaced with mean, irritable, fractious aliens.
They were screaming, fussing, whining, not sleeping well, and the home environment was a complete and utter nightmare. This went on for a few days until we decided to take them to the doctor.
There were no clear physical signs they weren’t well, but we were at the end of our ropes. Turns out…
One had a sinus infection.
Two had ear infections.
The other had a very sore throat and an ear infection.
So… there was that.
We haven’t beat the above problems, unfortunately, and we’re in a hard slog. The kids are irritable, disobedient, and unhappy because they are unwell.
The truth is, tough phases happen.
It makes sense.
However, those exact behaviors also make parenting a nightmare and pretty soon, I start becoming an angry mom. It’s sort of a bad cycle.
These phases come and go and the only thing about predictable about them is they usually pass as quickly as they come.
Maybe they are in a developmental stage where they’re seeking more independence. The difficult phase could be physical due to teething, illness or seasonal allergies.
Perhaps they are sorting through new emotions that come with starting preschool or dealing with changes in routine.
Often times, though, tough phases will come and go with little explanation. Often it’s just a mystery. I’ve learned to embrace the mystery, but I have to say, these hard times are not pleasant and I try to get out of them as fast as I can.
1. Speak to the deeper need
With most things in life, there are two things going on. What’s happening on the surface and what’s happening inside.
When something happens inside (emotions, physical pain, etc.) we manifest that on the outside. If we have a bad day, we get in a bad mood. If we hear great news, we start smiling and humming.
Children are no different.
When they begin to act fussy, disobedient, defiant or fractious, know it’s not likely a surface issue. We should try our best to deal with the surface behavior calmly, but speak to their heart.
Discipline negative behavior consistently, but pour extra love, time, and attention into their little spirits so that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt they are loved.
2. Be consistent
I had a friend tell me recently that when her daughter turned 3 she became very strong-willed and difficult. She said that entire year felt like a nightmare, but they were resolute in their consistency.
By the end of that year their daughter came out happy and well-behaved and less fractious.
When in doubt, stick it out.
Of course, there may come a time to determine if your methods of dealing with the situation are not effective. If so, you can try something new. But if you feel your consequences are appropriate and your kids are simply pushing the envelope, just keep going.
Note: You don’t need to be 100% consistent or perfect, but work towards consistency instead of irregularity.
3. Stay refreshed
This is the hardest one for overwhelmed moms, but it’s very effective. When times are tough at home and you have a perpetual teether or a strong-willed child, the days can feel very long. In fact, the longer these phases go on the less patient, understanding, and kind we can become.
Patience is a finite commodity, and the more it is tried the more it is used up.
Each of us must find a way to recharge and refresh consistently so we can remain in a good position to be the mothers we want to be.
This might be a day away, begging family to watch the kids, going away for the weekend alone, or just having a long bath as a nighttime routine. You’ll know what works for you, but you must learn to unwind well.
Read: 48 hour mommy vacay
4. Avoid excess change or busyness
If the kids are starting to act berserk and they are becoming less obedient and more fussy, I’d pare down your schedule. Children pick up on our stress and busyness and may become anxious and stressed if they are being carted from place to place endlessly.
My children often become all over the place when we have full weeks. Let’s face it, we can’t and shouldn’t stay home each and every day, but at the same time we may have to sacrifice some activities to give our children a more calm environment when they’re small.
Remember, even adults don’t like change. Imagine what it’s like for small children who are rarely the ones to initiate these changes.
Also, be sure you don’t sacrifice independent play time during these tough phases. It is an excellent way to reset moods for small children, and helps them to find peace and quiet amidst a busy home with other siblings.
Printable Routine Cards for Morning, Evening, and Bedtime Routines
5. Know it too will pass
We read it all the time, “this too shall pass.” It’s a bit cliché, and though I’m not one to find any encouragement in those “everything happens for a reason” phrases, I love this thought.
It will pass.
Teething will pass.
If you’re kind, firm, consistent, and doing the best you can, then you’re doing the best you can.
Sometimes parenting is so easy you think you want 5 more children. Hey, having children close together really isn’t as hard as you think.
Sometimes it’s just Over The Top and you need a live-in nanny. I’ve come to think that most good things in life are not terribly easy. There will be great phases and we should savor them when they come.
Then hard times will come that make us appreciate the good times, and we need to learn from them and keep moving.
If you’re going through hell… keep going.