THIS IS NORMAL
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
What 3 words best describe your parenting experience to date?
Complicated, Rage, Joy
What’s one of the hardest or most surprising things about being a parent that people wouldn’t expect or don’t usually talk about?
The constant and essential challenge of trying to see things from a child’s perspective, and the difficulty of trying to rationalize with a little person who sometimes appears rational but is in reality not rational at all! We try to avoid unreasonably imposing adult norms/behaviors/expectations on our child, which is of course much easier said than done!
What were some of your “wait...is this normal??” moments once you became a parent?
Our son Dylan is very active, smart and daring. He is constantly trying to push the limits and to piss us off, and he is incredibly talented at doing so! He has had phases of bad behavior on and off since he was about 3 years old and sometimes it’s really bad. We traveled with him last summer and he was so badly behaved it was as if a demon had possessed him. He would not listen to anything we said, he acted like a total crazy person in public, he would hit us and throw things, cry and scream. It was a nightmare. For eight straight days with no letting up at any point. I spent half the trip googling “problem child” and trying to determine whether I not had one! (things have gotten much better since, thank goodness).
What’s one of your favorite parenting hacks that helps keep you sane (that other parents should know about and start doing ASAP)?
I don’t know if this is a hack, or if it would work for all kids, but for Dylan, bribery is the best incentive for good behavior. A few years ago I proposed the “6 oreo challenge.” Dylan would not stop saying “poop, fart, doodoo, etc.” and it was driving us all nuts. We offered him a challenge – in the morning we would set aside 6 oreos (his favorite cookie at the time). Every time he said a bathroom word he would lose an oreo. His cookie reward at the end of the day would be directly linked to his self control – did he want 1 oreo or 6 oreos? His choice! And it totally worked. Within just a few days his vocabulary had improved dramatically and it basically solved the problem in the long term. Giving a kid the power over his own fate is a great way to make them feel like they are in control while allowing you to get what you want.