How to Keep from Killing the Little Devils
Sometimes it can be the most empathetic caregiver who is most at risk of getting emotional.
Dangerous myth number one: It only happens to somebody
else, and then only to "criminal types."
Truth: Almost anyone, if pushed far enough, can get angry
enough to scream, hit, or even kill (perhaps accidentally) in a fit of rage.
Dangerous myth number two: Children are kind, powerless
innocent darlings who couldn't possibly provoke a big, strong adult.
Truth: Even small infants show an uncanny ability
to arouse strong emotions in the adults around them. As they get older,
the most interesting kids can also be the most difficult. You can love
and respect strong-willed kids for the challenge they are, and realize
that they sometimes will push a conflict until something breaks.
Throughout life, the art of living peacefully is often a result of learning to recognize
and avoid situations where things could get out of hand. The same goes
for parenting. There are things you can do to help prevent difficult situations
Step One: Assess your situation.
Be honest with yourself, and ask the hard but pertinent questions.
Do you want this child? Are you crazy about him or her? Kids are
often unreasonable, demanding creatures. You have to be absolutely crazy
about them or you would never put up with it. Put another way, you have
to be a motivated parent to be a good parent.
How difficult a child is this? Do you have a quiet, cooperative teddy
bear, or an energetic, demanding boss who wants to control everything?
Step Two: Recognize the warning signs.
Are you in charge when you administer discipline? Or do you act impulsively
and find that you are losing control of yourself?
Does your child's behavior sometimes leave you with a feeling of surprise
and disbelief? "I just can't believe he did that." Totally unexpected situations
can leave you without a planned and reasonable response, which means that
your own spontaneous reaction may be one that surprises you, too.
Do you get angry when your child does? Empathy is great, but you have to
be able to disconnect, to stop feeling what your child is feeling. You
must take firm control when it comes to feelings of anger. You are not
a friend with whom your child can quarrel, you are the boss. Nature made
parents powerful so that they can take charge of their young offspring,
and it did so because otherwise we wouldn't survive!
Step Three: Take control of your situation.
If you are having a difficult time, but know you want to raise this child,
then you may need a little more time to yourself. Look for ways in which
you can reduce or share your daily responsibilities, particularly
if you are alone in your daily childcare tasks. Do whatever you can to reduce
other causes of stress in your life, as well. Save your patience for your
Tell people how you feel. In the worst case, if you are not happy to have
the opportunity to raise this child, then let the people around you know
that you want to get yourself out of the situation. Don't wait for a crisis.
Ask for help (or demand it if necessary) before things get out of hand.
There is always a solution once you find the right help.
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