My kids totally won today which in essence means I totally lost.
Stinker, age 4, has separation anxiety, or more appropriately phrased as wanting to go where everybody else was going. Because I suffer from amnesia when it comes to my kids, I totally forgot that I used to fight with The Diva about this very thing for maybe a year, if not more, when she was his age. She would always get so upset that she couldn’t go everywhere that Miss Double Digits went. Originally, I thought this was a girl thing, a sister bond issue. But now I know that wasn’t the case.
With the girls, I got creative with the ways that I handled those situations because I got tired of fighting with the child. So in my “creative solution”, I scheduled playdates or other activities for her while her sister was out. It was more about me having less drama to deal with than actually helping The Diva cope with her emotions.
Well, therein lies the new problem. While The Diva has grown out of this issue, and I don’t have to fight with her anymore, now it’s Stinker’s turn. Unfortunately, he has a more layered case. He already suffers from separation anxiety when his sisters spend the weekend with their dad. Every day that they are gone (actually it feels like every hour), he asks, “Are they coming home? Is it time to pick them up yet? Where are they? And why do we have to share?” When they do come home, he wants to spend all of his time with them, and rightfully so. However, when they schedule playdates for themselves, like they have today, things get a lot more complicated.
Now, I’m back in the space that I had forgotten about – being creative about how my kids can have fulfilling experiences without having drama from a sibling attached to it. I don’t have the emotional capacity to navigate this mindfield of tiny humans and their emotions right now. And because of it, I feel like a horrible mom. So, I phoned a friend…
In my 10 minute consultation with a super Mom, she gave me three tips to help me manage all the emotions (theirs and mine) during this transition phase.
- Discuss the plan for the day. While we can be dismissive towards our kids because of their age and lack of understanding, it can still be helpful to go over the plan with them daily. If they have a sense of what is happening, when and with whom, you can avoid future meltdowns by having these conversations early.
- Set a timer! If the bell rings, it’s time to move on to the next thing. This tip will be helpful in reinforcing what you previously discussed about the plan for the day.
- Pray for patience (for yourself) and understanding of perspective (regarding your child). It’s possible that not knowing the plan for the day might cause your kids stress or anxiety. Speaking for myself, I never considered that my children might experience this. It is almost a foreign concept to me. However, I am committed to trying to see things from their perspectives. Regardless, prayer is a requirement to surviving parenthood in my opinion.
As I continue on this journey through the minefield of tiny human emotions, I feel a little better knowing that I am armed with a few tools. Putting them into practice and remaining consistent will be the key to any level of success. I’m hopeful though, and I expect to even the score with these kids. *Insert evil laugh here*