The other day I was at the mall’s indoor playground with Bekah. Daniel was asleep in his stroller so I didn’t have to watch him too closely. Every now and then she’d run out of the play area, laughing. She only wanted me to chase her, a game; she didn’t really want to run away. At first I tried to tell her to stay in the play area but I was laughing too hard to say it with a straight face and mean it (the mall wasn’t busy). I decided instead to just give up and let her do it. Most of the time she was laughing so hard that her “running away” was a very slow crawl, anyway. We had FUN together!
2) Take a break to just play
Sometimes we go to the mall or to story time even though I really have chores to do. Sometimes Bekah asks me to read a story (or 4) while we’re supposed to be getting dressed and doing our morning routine. But, you know, we’re all a lot happier if we just take 10 minutes (or 3 hours…:) ) out of our day to do something fun!
3) Give them a chance to be good
When I remember, I tell Bekah before we ever leave the house what’s expected of her that day. i.e. “No running or screaming, stay with mommy,” etc. Once I told her it was time to leave the play area and I explained she needed to sit in her stroller and not cry or scream, and if she did we would come back another day. And you know what? When we talk calmly about what’s expected ahead of time, she does it! Despite not wanting to stop playing, she left quietly and calmly. And she’s barely 2!
4) Laugh instead of cry
Sometimes children get into things…okay, well, they do that a lot. Especially at my house, where “no” is a challenge. But sometimes they really don’t know it’s wrong. If you’ve never told them it’s wrong, how can they know? No matter how big a mess they’ve created, just laugh and help clean up. It’s like the time Bekah found the chili powder, which I had left sitting next to my Crockpot, and she took it into the play room, opened it, and started shaking it on the rug. No one had told her not to! (And I probably shouldn’t have left it where she could reach it, even if she did have to climb up or stand on tippy toes.) Or if the child is tired and screeching while you dress her for bed…just laugh! “You must be sooooo tired to scream that way! Oh no! We better get you to bed fast!” It’s so much better than crying…or screaming yourself!
5) Extend grace
It’s kind of like the previous idea. Sometimes kids are just having a bad day. You don’t have to punish them every time. A quiet word of correction (if necessary) and a hug and a “free pass” are sometimes needed. We all say and do things that we know we shouldn’t sometimes, but what we really need is someone to give us a hug and say “It’s going to be okay.” So why do we say to our kids, “I know you’re tired/hungry/having a bad day, but that’s NO excuse….” (Obviously this doesn’t apply to very serious issues like biting, running in traffic, etc.) Extend grace instead!
6) When torn, cherish and be proud
There are times that Bekah learns to do something new, that is totally shocking to me, and I am torn between anger (how could she do that?!) and pride (wow, she’s grown up to think of that!). Go with pride. As above, a kid doesn’t know something is wrong unless they’ve been told. So just be proud! “You’re so grown up, how did you think of that? Now, help me clean up…we really shouldn’t do that.”
This all goes along with living for joy.
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