Dear Fellow Parent: I’m Right There With You

Some days I get tired of parenting.  The constant dealings with my ‘want to be the boss’ four year old and coming up on to the beginnings of the terrible two’s to my twenty-two month old, my life as a parent feels awful.  I’m often anxious with the kids especially when we go out; worrying if one of them or both of them will have a temper tantrum, shout, or cry hysterically.  I wonder if my twenty-two month old will stop trying to run away from me every time I tell him to stop running or stop squirming long enough for me to get him dressed.  I wonder if my four year old will listen to me when I tell him not to scream every sound or obscene word that comes to mind and be quiet for once and stop touching every little thing he sees when I tell him not to.  Some days, parenting becomes a chore; a chore that has to get done no matter how nasty, unpleasant, or unfair it is.  I have to parent because it’s my responsibility; they are my responsibility.  They were given to me.  On days like these, my energy levels are drained from mental and physical exhaustion that I want to crawl in my bed, put the covers over my head and to be left alone to cry it out.  Today I thought was going to be one of those days until I heard another parent say, “I’m right there with you.”

I was at the park with my kids when my four year old was on the tire swing.  My youngest son was helping me push my oldest on the swing.  My oldest got  scared and wanted to stop.  He got off and wanted his brother to come on the swing.  I told him that his brother didn’t want to be on the swing and we’re going to the baby swings since he was done. Since I wanted my youngest to get a chance on a swing, my oldest immediately wanted to go on the tire swing again.  I told him no and we’re going to swing his brother, then we’ll leave.  “No, I want to go on the tire swing,” my oldest shouted.  I told him if he could get on himself, he’s welcome to it, but I was going to the baby swings and I walked towards the other swings.  My oldest screamed and started in a tantrum “Don’t leave! Don’t leave!”

A grandfather who had his grandson there said, “I guess he doesn’t want to leave.”

I’ve told him and a mother who witness this that I told my eldest that since he was done with the tire swing that we’re going to swing his brother on the baby swing and now he wants to swing on the tire swing again.  The mother nodded her head as to say “I understand”.

My son was continuing his tantrum as he was walking towards me.  “Stop with the screaming.  You want to go home now?”

“No!” He runs back to the tire swing.

“Don’t you run away from me.Come back here”  I said angrily.  Of course he runs away.  I ran after him and caught him by the arm.  “Do you want to leave,” I asked as I pull my son while he was dragging his feet in the dirt and wooden chips on the playground and then dropping his butt to the ground.  I got him back to the baby swing to wait, but he continued screaming so I told him “That’s it! Go get your bike we’re leaving.”  I took my youngest out of the swing and then he started crying because he didn’t want to leave… he wanted to swing.  I now have both kids crying.  I explained to my oldest why we were leaving and the crying continued along with my youngest chiming in.

As I walked passed the grandfather and the other mother, the other mother responded, “I understand and ‘I’m right there with you’.”  She has a son about four also and a young baby in her arms.  I told her “Thank you and I appreciate your understanding.” I told her when the tantrum starts; I just send my mind to another part of my brain until the tantrum subsides. She was very encouraging, saying it will pass and jokingly said, “Don’t you wish, you can transport yourself and go somewhere pleasant until everything’s over?”  That made me smile and my son’s tantrum didn’t seem like the end of the world because I felt that I wasn’t alone.  I’m thankful for that fellow mother who wasn’t judgmental, but was understanding of the situation.

As parents, we deal with a lot with our children.  When you see a parent upset, not engaged with a blank glare on their face when their children are acting out, talking back, or when they try to try their patience, see this as a normal response to cope with the situation at hand.  Does this mean we let our children behave badly?  No.  We parent the best we can in accordance to our backgrounds, culture, and what we believe a good parent should do. We all been through a time when our children can be the worst of the worst and all you can do is scream inside hoping you don’t cry from frustration.  No matter how you would handle a situation; whether it’s time outs, setting consequences or just giving in, it’s good to know that another parent looks at you without judgment but with empathy cause they have been through what you been through.

So next time when you see a parent struggling to get their children to behave, don’t look at what you would do in that situation.  Try to just look at the situation itself and understand the fear of being judged by other people no matter what they do to make the child behavior or stop crying. Give that parent a look of understanding. Let them know that they’re not alone and tell them: “I’m right there with you.  I’ve been through this too.”

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Potty Training: Dealing With Regression

I thought Bam Bam was doing so well going into his third month of potty training.  He’s peeing in the potty.  He’s pooping in the potty at least ninety percent of the time.  All seems well and then wham…he’s not going to the potty.  He’s not even mentioning that he has to go to the potty when usually he does.  He will come to me with a wet potty training pants or training pants filled with poop.  I thought that he was making progress…something’s amidst.  Some days I would have to fight with Bam Bam to use the potty.  Some days Bam Bam will hand me his diaper to tell me he wants his diaper again. Bam Bam was so proud to use his potty so what gives? I’ve found out that Bam Bam’s going through POTTY TRAINING REGRESSION!  DA DA DUM!

If your child is going through ‘potty training regression’ what do you do about it?  Do you back off?  I wouldn’t back off, especially if your child is making progress.  This is what I’ve learned about potty training regression that I hope will help you if or when your child regresses on the potty:

  1.  Find out what’s causing the regression:  You have to find out what’s causing it.  Could he/she be teething?  Could he/she going through a developmental stage?  Could the child just want to play and feels he/she doesn’t have time to go to the potty?  You just want to make sure it’s not an illness that’s causing the regression instead of thinking it’s something else.
  2. Stick with the potty training: If you find out it’s a regression of some sort, it’s best to go right through it.  I’m not suggesting ignoring the regression; recognize it, but still focus on potty training.  Bam Bam was going through a mix between his terrible two stage (yes, he hit his early) and his secondary molars coming in.  Although Bam Bam wasn’t in the mood to go potty, I still made him go potty.  Why shut down potty training when the regression may last a couple of days to a couple of weeks?
  3. Congratulated them when they go potty: Yes, you know they know how to go potty.  Your child knows they know how to go potty, but get excited when they do show them that you approve of them going in the potty.  Although your child may be going through ‘something’, they like to still please you and to know that their doing a good job.

Dealing with a child with any regression is frustrating because you want to see your child progressing and you think there’s something wrong when they don’t. It’s important to know that’s its normal for a child to regress, but it doesn’t mean you should stop.  It’s good to show your child that you want them to progress even through they regress.  Bam Bam regression last for about a week and now he’s going to the potty as normal…but more vocal to if he has to go to the potty or not.  He’s been accurate in telling me nine out of ten times if he really has to go or not.  He’s learning his body fast and if I backed off him when he regressed, I don’t know how much I could of delayed his progress.

Potty training regression is the worst but you’ll make it through.  Keep. On. Potty. Training!

Why are we letting society tell us what toys our children should play with?

Parents of today seem to need validation in the way they raise their children.  They look to the media and society for their approval, whether it’s parenting style or whether it’s ok to tell your children no without hurting their feelings.  If they don’t get the validation from society, the media, or heaven forbid their friends and family; these parents see it as an injustice to them and their child. They also think that people are telling them how to raise their child.  This is especially true when it comes to gender stereotyping; whether it’s right to give or not to give a gender specific toy to their child.

A lot of parents think it’s wrong to have a boy toy section or have a girl toy section in the toy store or having boys or girls toys at all.  Every kid has a right to play with any toy that they want.  I agree… but you don’t need society to tell you this.  Why do we need society to give its blessing to whether a child should play with a gender specific toy or not? Just because some parents find gender specific toys offensive doesn’t mean every parent does.  Maybe there are boys who like “boy” toys and girls who like “girl” toys.  Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and a boy wants to play with dolls and girls like to play with trucks.  Ok, just go in the girl section to get the doll for the boy and the boy section to get the truck for the girl. This is common sense to me. Who cares what people think?

These parents think that society should be setting a gender neutral toy campaign to shield their children from getting picked on because they’re playing with a non-gender specific toy hoping other parents will follow suit and allow their children to play with a toy not specific to their child’s gender. Do we need to force parents to persuade their children to play with non-gender specific toys? Why can’t we teach our children to be themselves, not to care about what other people think or say about them, help them realize that not everyone will agree with the choices they make and to realize that’s ok, too?  As long as those people don’t cause physical harm to your child, let them think what they want to think.

To be happy that stores like Target bend to the will of some overly sensitive people doesn’t change the fact that the majority of boys and girls prefer gender specific toys regardless of what the store label the aisle as.  In the hopes of changing the color walls from blue for boys and pink for girls to a brown panel backing isn’t going to make boys wander into a section of dolls and say “Hey, I can play with Barbie’s now since they no pink wall telling me it’s a girl toy.”  Or a girl wanders in a section of trucks and says, “Here’s a toy truck.  Since there’s no blue wall behind it, it must be for girls too.”  I think it will take more than some color wall paper to end gender toy stereotyping my friend.

Children like the toys that they like and getting rid of gender specific labeling or colors in toy stores aren’t going to change that. If a boy wants a truck or an action figure, he’s going to go to that section to get one.  If a girl wants a doll or a kitchen set, she’s going to that section to get one.  In my opinion, gender neutral toy sections in stores are trying to persuade a child and their parents to wander in a toy section that they’re not interested in with the hopes that the child or their parents will pick a non-gender specific toy instead of a gender specific one because now there’s no blue or pink color background or labels that distinguish what is for boys and what is for girls. Shouldn’t the parent tell their child, it’s ok to play with whatever toy they want regardless of what color or select label is shown in the aisles? Why does society need to do that for us?

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with having gender specific toys and I also don’t have a problem with children playing with non gender specific toys either if they choose.  I believe having a difference in boys and girls is a beautiful thing and to try to make everyone the same isn’t showing children to appreciate the difference in everyone whether they play with gender specific toys or not.  Accept it or not, there is such thing as gender and there are certain traits in majority of boys that gravitate them to certain toys (motor vehicle, action figures, and toy guns) and certain traits in majority of girls that gravitate them to certain toys (dolls, stuff animals, and dressing up items) that makes boys and girl toys sections logical.  The toy section labels aren’t there to limit the availability of toys for both genders.  The limitation comes in the mind of the parent because they’re afraid of what people think or think that limitations are set upon their child.

Children should be able to play with any toy they like regardless of what gender aisle you find the toy in. If you want your child to play with a non-gender specific toy, go in that aisle and get it. Society doesn’t need to tell you this.