The founder of “The Sweet Life” explains how to add magic and sweetness to your daily life with children
Guiding children to follow the rules takes awareness, understanding, patience and, let’s be honest, a little creativity. You work so hard for this job for your child and family, then another adult (an, aunt, or friend) breaks those boundaries.
When this happens, it can cause frustration and even generate anger. You may then find yourself reacting to your emotion towards behavior in the place of respond to the intention and the person.
So what does it take to get other adults to play by the rules you hold for your children? Follow the four S.
1. See from a place of love.
The first step in lovingly receiving the actions of others is to see from a place of love. Believe the intention is good. The people who genuinely care about your child plan to give them pleasure, not pain. The intention of their action is rooted in.
When Grandpa passes the biggest piece of chocolate cake to your child, he is motivated by your child’s smile, not the upset stomach and bad mood that follows.
Seeing others in this positive light can soften your feelings. It doesn’t mean that you are allowing everything, just that you may be embracing the belief that you dislike the message, not the messenger.
2. Sift through what’s most important.
Another practice is to sift through what is most important. Which rules correspond to your gray area?
My husband and I strongly encourage creative play for our children and choose to do so. Yet when my kids go to Grandma’s, they are expected to watch a show, or two or three. I Choose to put that in the gray area, recognizing that the visit is a special time for each of them. When I think about the effects, it’s really not that big of a deal, compared to, say, disrespect, or a tired grandparent who can’t be around enough with my kids for the rest of the day without rest.
And while screen time is a gray area, I keep the cuteness line. There is room for mistakes, messages for mistakes, forgiveness for apologies, but is expected at my house, at grandmother’s, everywhere.
Think about which rules to fight for and which rules. And remember parenting is a once in a lifetime experience. Do what gives you and your children the most peace.
3. Speak up when it matters.
When I see nasty acts from my children or towards my children, I speak up. It’s so important, but for some of us, so difficult. Personally, I find it difficult and avoid the prospect of hurting feelings. Yet I know it’s my job to protect my children.
It is my intention when I remove my child from a situation that I perceive to be physically and emotionally dangerous. But in some situations, I speak when I have a limit that someone else is not aware of. In that case, I will kindly ask someone not to do something for my child.
The bank teller asks to give my child a pacifier. I thank him and ask him if he has stickers instead. Surprisingly, those who offer lollipops also tend to have a stash of stickers.
What if the cashier handed out the lollipop without asking first? I see they just want to bring joy, so I thank them and gently tell my child to hold it until after lunch. (For the record, the first ride home holding the lollipop took a lot of patience; “after lunch, after lunch, after lunch.” But now there’s a wait and maybe a little lesson in. waiting.)
It can be difficult when you feel like you’re the one going against other people’s beliefs, but the source of your strength comes from knowing your child better than anyone else.
4. Show to lead by example.
Last but not the least is the knowledge that we are. Our words and actions are observed, stored and repeated. That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect – in fact, owning them and learning from them is part of our journey and the lessons we can offer our children.
The way we treat our children is the way they will treat themselves. The way they see us treating others is the way they will treat others.
This Christmas, my son received a gift he did not like, it was a figurine that scared him a little. He looked at me and I whispered, “Just say thank you.” When we spent some time alone that night, I shared with him that he doesn’t have to pretend to like something, but that he can always be kind.
I can also choose to approach the donor with gratitude and just share that we appreciate the thoughtful gift and that he is genuinely interested in construction trucks at this time.
What has the most impact is not what we say, but how we say it. We can be kind in our approach, but true to what we believe.
Understanding the root
I consciously chose to notice which “broken rules” upset me the most and sit with them long enough to consider the trigger. What I discovered is that a lot of my frustration with the way others treat my children stems from the fear of losing control.
When someone makes a decision for my child, it means I haven’t. When someone walks in and gives them candy, shows a video game, teaches a disapproving line, or shares a scary story, I feel like I haven’t given them the best of what I think they need. .
Yet when I dig below the reactive frustration fueled by lack of control, I find that giving them room to experiment is just another trail in their path.
I can protect them with a dam big enough to prevent a devastating flood, but a sparkling stream also can’t pass.
Being a parent isn’t about controlling children, it’s about guiding them to discover the best of themselves. And on this journey, they need space to explore, to be influenced, to equip themselves to handle what cannot be controlled.
I can balance providing protection and allowing experiences. Maybe it’s not necessarily me against them, mom against everyone. Perhaps there is power in a collective quest to discover the best of a child’s self. You can imagine that it takes a whole village to raise a child, and it’s OK to choose that village wisely, and it’s also OK to give those in the village some space to guide, too.
A version of this article was originally posted on January 9, 2018. It has been updated.