Summer is here and schedules are less rigid. This can be a delight but it can also feel like a heavy load sometimes. It’s easy to feel wistful for the the old, dependable pattern of school, homework, and bedtime.
Despite being billed as a relaxing time, some struggles can feel more intense because of the more slower, open pace. We have more unstructured time with our kids and that doesn’t always feel so “relaxing.”
The days are longer which gives us more time to experience resistance, tantrums, and pushback with our kids. A lot of how we experience these struggles has to do with our own expectations and what we tell ourselves.
All parents worry or get frustrated with their kids but taking a look at the messages we send ourselves first can make a big difference in the outcome. If you tell yourself, “Why can’t he just listen?” or What’s wrong with him or me?” – you are not helping you or your child.
The best way to take care of both of you (whatever the season) is to get curious and to think of yourself as an Emotional Coach. Below are some ideas to experiment with during these summer months:
1. Develop your own awareness about how you feel and what you think when you are with your child.
2. Tap into what soothes and cares for you.
3. Consider your child’s temperament. Sometimes, “quiet” parents wind up with an exuberant child or, a gregarious parent notices her child is a bit of a loner. This is not good or bad; just useful information to have as you think about how to address the struggle.
4. Gather information about the situation. Pretend you are a scientist and notice when I do X, my child does Y.
5. Get curious about eating and sleep schedules. Does my child need to go to bed earlier? Is he hungry?
6. Arm yourself with some tools to cut down on power struggles.
7. Above all, be kind to yourself as your engage in this process.