How many of us have been in Target and our kid sees a toy they want? You say no, not right now. Oh the fit and the tears and the flopping body!! You feel like the worst parent for telling your child no – not to mention the embarrassment over the overtly dramatic display your child is putting on in public!
OR how about you make lunch and cut the sandwich into squares just like your child has liked it every day for the last 6 months…. and then they meltdown! They want triangles! Your head spins around in circles and you count to a million trying to calm down and process how to handle this situation- let alone who taught your child what triangles are and that sandwiches can be cut into them!
OR you are in the happiest place on earth, and your child talked all night about how excited he is to be there and all of the things he is going to do… and then you get to the park and you get this.⬇️ (Funny, but so not funny in the moment!)
Kids are fickle. It’s normal – frustrating – but normal. Little ones (adolescents and teenagers too) change their minds on things they want and like to do like they change their clothes – sometimes it’s every 5 minutes!
As a mom of 4 I have been in these shoes SO many times! Liam cried and didn’t participate every week we came to dance. He loved dance. He would dance at home all of the time. What was it about coming to the studio? He didn’t want to leave home because he liked watching TV or playing with his toys. It was TOUGH! The tears, the fights, the floppy body in and out of the car….. I honestly thought I was the worst mom in the world making him go to dance. But, I knew deep down that he did like dance. It was just something that we had to work through. Here we are 8 years later. The kid dances every night of the week, is still dancing all of the time at home, is working his tail off, lights up whenever he hits the stage, and is getting recognized on a National level for his talent and skill. Had I pulled him when it was a toddler/preschool battle to go to class he would have missed out on all of this.
Ryan is the same way. We knew that even though he tolerated (and honestly did like) dance, it wasn’t what lit him up inside. His light came on when he played baseball and basketball. There have been so many times that he has a full on meltdown at 7 years old because he doesn’t want to go to baseball or basketball practice. He doesn’t want to wear a mask. He “hates” it. “It’s boring.” On and on and on. These meltdowns can last for hours! Does he really hate baseball and basketball? Nope. He doesn’t want to get off his iPad or he doesn’t want to come in from outside and change clothes for practice or he is tired. He definitely had a lot more of them when school transitioned back to in person and I wasn’t home with him during the day anymore. We had a lot of separation anxiety (which is normal given the circumstances). We saw it flare up again a few weeks ago when teachers went back after being virtual for so long. It’s tough to push him out there on the field all red in the face and pouty, but we do. He may still be grumpy when he comes off the field or court, but these episodes don’t last long when we don’t play into them or give in to them. Our philosophy has always been that we made a commitment and he will fulfill it. When the season is done he can have the choice to sign up again or not. He always signs back up – every single time.
We know it can be hard. Helping them fulfill their commitment and to be consistent helps them work through these highs and lows. It’s completely normal for kids to see a new shiny object or activity and want to do that instead of what they loved just last week. Does that mean they don’t love dance or Barbies or Paw Patrol anymore? No. It just means they are being human and kids and want the instant gratification of getting that thing they want in the moment.
What are we teaching when we “make” our child fulfill a commitment or we tell them no to the new shiny thing? We are teaching them to wait and work for things. We are teaching them that instant gratification is not a value – which will serve them well later in life. We are teaching them that just because we are struggling or not liking something in the moment does not mean we quit it or don’t really like it. We all have those days we don’t want to leave our houses or have to go to work or school. Do we give in to those impulses? We can’t. We have to go whether we like it or not. Usually it ends up being not nearly as bad as we were imagining it to be. It’s not that we don’t like school or work (well … most of us)…. it’s that we would rather do something else that requires less effort or that we like in the moment. We all learned that sitting on our couches and binging Netflix every day is NOT good for us mentally or physically!
We have seen this struggle happening between kids and parents more and more lately. It’s hard when we are not in our normal daily schedules. Things are changing constantly and we don’t have normal routines. It is expected that kids are going to struggle getting back into schedules and commitments. It’s our job as parents and care givers to help them work through this and love them through these transitions. Keeping a weekly commitment will help them adjust to adding back in daily commitments like school. Separation anxiety is going to happen. We have been with them every day all day for the past year. As our schedules change and we go back to our workplaces the kids are going to struggle to adjust to being separated from us. They may be ok going to school, but may meltdown when they come to dance. Hang in there moms and dads! We are here to support you. Reach out for help, keep your commitments, and love them through the tough times. They will thank you for it later, I promise!❤