Every stage of child rearing has its own unique challenges. I sometimes learn that the hard way. I’m glad I no longer have to change diapers, carry around a diaper bag and stroller or pull them in and out of car seats. However, now they have lots of opinions and social plans of their own. Taking them to run errands interferes with ‘their time’ and ‘their plans’. It was almost easier when I dragged them around in a stroller. Now, at ages 10 and 11, there are a lot more arguments and struggles of a different nature. Oh and the tantrums of the toddler age didn’t go away, they just morphed into ‘tween-trums’ as I call them.
At these ages, there is a lot more going on with school pressure and socially. They are also trying to assert their independence and push their limits. With the older one, I think hormonal changes are adding to all of this by making him moodier and harder to understand. I feel like I need to research and study child psychology just to keep a happy family. This part was definitely easier when they were babies. At that age, you just wanted to make sure you didn’t drop them and fed them on time. Now, you worry that if you don’t say or do the right things, you will damage their psyche for life. It doesn’t help to watch crime shows that make you believe that people become crazy killers because their parents messed them up! No pressure…
I try to do all the things that make sense to me. I am there for them as much as possible to give them a sense of security. I try to teach them right from wrong to give them a good moral foundation. I try to stress the importance of hard work since being smart will only get you so far (that one is a challenge). I try not to overwhelm them with studying and activities, since I believe free time to have fun and be creative is an important part of childhood. Oh, and I enforce consequences for bad behavior and disrespect. I know there are a lot of studies that say punishment is not effective at this stage and you need to just maintain a positive relationship with your child. I agree with trying to keep a good relationship with my kids and make sure they know I’m their biggest fan, but sometimes they do need consequences to learn a lesson.
Some of the struggles I’ve seen are the result of insecurity and building their identity. I’m sure these will last a while. All I can do is make sure they know that we are proud of them and that they can work hard to achieve things that seem too tough. I also want them to not worry too much about what their peers think they should be or wear or like. They need to have friends but still have an identity of their own and a bit of a thick skin. It’s so complicated! We want the best for our kids but we don’t have control over their minds or the various elements in their lives. Just do the best we can and hope it works out!