Assuming you have raised your child with love, there is no reason why they would Want to upset you. I am making this statement today with the upmost emphasis because I for one, struggle at times not taking my child’s acting out personally. We, the grown ups, live in what we often perceive as a dog eat dog world. Whether or not that is partially true is another topic, but one thing is for sure, our children don’t have that perception yet. Not, at least, until well passed 5 or 6 years of age. They start off with needs, learn preferences and wants, and then develop a sense of their interaction and influence on the surrounding world. Needs are easily met with a little adjustment to our lives, and I am far too naive, with children too young to speak of developing self awareness in this modern environment. I would like to comment for now on the often troublesome period involving wants.
Desire hits us smack in the face like the sweet smell of freshly baked bread. At a particular point we realize that we have options, choices, a plethora of outcomes awaiting us. Suddenly our simple needs of mom and dad’s affection and care have been flooded by an overwhelming sense of desire. Of course they seem to be in the same general category as our original needs and so they are treated as such. This is where the confusion sets in. As parents we do not recall that transition and hence aren’t very understanding of our child’s seemingly brattish behavior. We try to suppress their outbreaks, condemn their upset rather than validate it, and worst of all, we take their acting out personally, forgetting that they are dealing the best they can with the myriad of forces pulling at their psyche. The ludicrously funny thing is that if we stopped our futile attempts of deflecting their emotions and took a few minutes to grasp their perspective and recognize the underlying needs of affection and care that still exist, we would find ourselves well equipped to live harmoniously with our little ones as they attempt to find that self awareness in the world that often evades even us “grown ups”.
Rest assured my patience with this understanding is tested often, especially when my 25 month old wants to shake my 2 month old’s hand vigorously, something we have repeatedly explained not to do. Using the dog as a bed, pulling out toilet paper, and screaming playfully at the top of her lungs while others try to sleep, my child clearly is trying to upset me right? Wrong. She wants something. More often than not, she’s looking for attention, someone to explore HER world with. And rightly so. At her age kids are primed for development, skill building, and social interaction. What I have to choose is whether to condemn her for making my life harder, or work with understanding to reach common ground on which we can mesh our lives peacefully. Luckily at this age they also gain an understanding of time and simple concepts, at least in my experience, that can aid you in arranging agreements. Please realize though that it is not for us to expect them to understand or like a given scenario, though they often will if you give them sincere validation of there perspectives. How else is a child to develop such skills except through our example?
On a final note, find patience for yourself. This is not an easy perceptual shift for us dogs fighting for the perceived scraps day in and day out. If you find yourself about to boil over, take a few minutes to inwardly explore what preconditioned judgements you are putting on your little bundles of joy. Once the blame is removed from your mind you will be able to address them in a manner that empowers their growth into conscious, loving beings.
Thank you for your perspectives on the matter, as I dearly love to hear other’s experiences,