This article is part of an editorial series, “Discipline Discussion” brought to you by Fort Worth Moms. Join our subscriber list so you don’t miss a moment of “Discipline Discussions” and all Fort Worth Moms has to offer throughout the year.
One thing I have learned as an adoptive mama and a child therapist is that bonding with our children happens most naturally during the hard times.
The good times are good. We aren’t very necessary (sorry, but it’s true). When your child faces suffering, trauma, loss, or pain . . . you are needed! For me personally, when I have walked through trials, those who are there for me have permanently become “my people!”
The same is true for our kids. Moms, if we can show up in the hard times for our kids, we can have a beautiful parent/child relationship. Nothing strengthens our bond more than walking through fire together.
So here are some examples of those times that we might want to distance ourselves from our trying child. I am here to spur you on and encourage you. You don’t need to create a barrier during trial. You’ve just stumbled on a golden opportunity. Don’t let it slip between your fingers. Pursue your child’s heart during his or her sorrow.
- Disrupting behavior. Of course, we need specific tools under our belts for this one. But I believe in the power of relationship! When our kids misbehave, it creates a divide and causes us to want to push away. But, what happens if we draw nearer instead?
- Difficulty regulating their body and/or mind. Maybe sensory struggles during a growth spurt are driving you bananas. Pull them into a hammock with you or rub their back. Children cannot learn to self soothe if they have not had a loving adult who soothed them first.
- Medical challenges. And all my medical mamas say: Amen. These moments can be extremely hard. One minute we help strap down our kids for a procedure, and then next we are embracing them as they cry. I think because we challenge them during hard medical moments, it is extraordinarily important that we balance that out with nurture. Connecting might be sitting beside them and putting some blocks together. Kind of like when toddlers first learn how to do parallel play, let’s just sit beside them and BE together: before, during, and after all of the hard appointments.
4. Fights with friends or siblings. I know what I need during those moments myself is a sounding board, someone to remind me that my thoughts and feelings matter. So in these moments, I think it’s great to reflect back to our children what they’re saying happened: So you’re mad that she said that during recess. Recite it back to your child so they can hear it, reflect, and feel validated all in one moment.
5. Loss of an important person. What is your child’s need in this moment? Someone to just sit with? Someone to remind your kid that he or she will always be cared for, that he or she are never alone? Maybe it is time to craft some kind of item in memory of a special person.
6. A friendship has dissolved. If your kid is feeling rejected, we can show the opposite. We can give the kiddo some tangible unconditional love! We can tell him or her about a time we had to do the same. What a bond we’ve just created.
7. He or she is feeling uncertain about self concept/image. Let’s give a reminder about who your child really is. Buy a journal and write notes back and forth. Spell it out: You are an amazing person, and this is why. That’s a moment your child will very likely always remember. When he or she was down, you picked him or her up.
8. A new person has been introduced into the family dynamic. What a beautiful struggle for all as the transition occurs, whether it is a sibling or a new parent. We can draw each child near and remind him or her of what IS permanent. There have been changes, but there are also things that will never change. Our love is like an invisible string, uniting us forever.
So much of this is so obvious to our readers. I know that our moms are amazingly selfless when it comes to parenting. So, why do I write this?
I write to increase our awareness of moments in our kids lives in which we can rise to the occasion and show greater compassion and empathy.
I write to remind everyone that there isn’t a “one size fixes all” approach. It’s trial and error!
I write to hopefully help moms mend bonds with their struggling kiddos.
I write to normalize very difficult challenges. We are not alone!
I write to confirm that we aren’t Super Woman. We need down time to recharge in order to do this kind of nurturing, don’t we!?
I write to remind us all: This too shall pass! Many challenges are short term, and if we can just hang on, we are almost entering a new parenting stage.
I know some of this can feel very cheesy, but wouldn’t we prefer to be cheesy with our kids rather than them continue to grow up feeling less than bonded with us? I want them to come to me when they face hard times, so if I want to create that dynamic, I have to put aside my personal reactions in hard times. I want to capitalize on these moments of HARD by showing them my most nurturing side. I want us to face difficulty as a team! Cheesy sounds good to me, if it means my child’s bucket is filled up by me RIGHT when it is the most empty.