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Don't Let Your Preschooler Get You Down

By Nicky Vanvalkenburgh

Have you ever seen parents discipline their children in public? I recently saw a mother spank her child at the bank. Unfortunately, the mother was treating her little girl like a punching bag.

The child was probably five or six years old, and was intrigued by the bank's "Take one! brochures. When the child took one, her mother slapped her hand. The girl began crying. She received another slap. "You be quiet! the mother growled. The child sat down on the bank's sofa. She crossed her legs, Indian style. Oops, her feet touched the sofa. Whack! By the time they marched out of the bank, that mother had slapped her child at least 20 times.

Was that necessary? I don't think so. Children often make mistakes because they're immature or don't know better. They're kids, and they're not as sophisticated as adults. They're also creatures of wonder and awe.

I can't remember the last time I got excited about getting a free lollypop at the bank. Candy isn't something that I jump up and down about. Children are completely different. When the teller handed that child a lollypop, her eyes sparkled with delight. Why couldn't that mother be gentle with her daughter, and loosen up a bit? Being overly strict and rigid was making both of them miserable.

Watching the parent at the bank made me think about my own disciplinary style. Do I unintentionally respond to my children like that mother did out of anger, stress and frustration?

I must be patient with my kids, and allow them to make mistakes. They don't do things on cue. They don't always listen. Sometimes, they are downright sassy or disobedient. Most of the time, it's a matter of immaturity. They must learn what it means to be polite, respectful, self-controlled, and well-behaved. Most of the time, they're just being children.

Isn't it funny how kids are oblivious to external cues? Any adult in that little girl's situation would think, "I need to keep my mouth shut. I better keep a low profile. My Mom is getting irritated, so I better be as quiet as I possibly can be."

What seems logical to adults is often oblivious to kids. It's as remote to them as the planet Mars. Most of the time, they don't have a clue about the way adults think or feel. It is hard for them to put themselves in our shoes.

I remember being pregnant with my second child. My belly was so big that I could hardly see my feet. I felt the baby's little heels pressing against my abdomen, which made it hard to breathe. It was a real challenge walking out of the grocery store with loaded plastic bags and a preschooler in tow. Even so, my preschooler would ask, "Momma, will you carry me?

My preschooler, God bless him, was oblivious to the fact that I was huffing and puffing to make it to the car. The last thing that I could do is carry him on my hip.

It's times like these that I have to laugh. This is my life, and it is funny. It is absurd, ridiculous and wonderful. I can't take myself too seriously. Life is too short for that. As my eyes roll to the sky, I laugh and smile. I can't let the little guy get me down. He's just being a child. And I have the privilege of being his Mom.

About The Author
Nicky Vanvalkenburgh writes about practical coping strategies for empowered living. Check out her website at http://www.20minutestolessstress.com/.


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