Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Parenting help - remember It's a phase!

I was asked recently what advice I would give to a new parent to stay calm and cope with the challenges of motherhood.  As a mum of 5, the one phrase that comes to mind over and over again is "it's just a phase".  When one of them has used a swear word for the 10th time to get a response, I remind myself "it is just a phase", when another has pulled down his pants in the middle of the playground, arched his back and done a huge wee right by the other kids, I say to myself "it is just a phase".  When my eldest began answering back big time I had to stay calm and keep saying "it is just a phase" even though I know this phase could last a long time!!

The beauty with having had quite a few kids is that I realise now that all the challenging times and difficult behaviours do CHANGE.  No matter how bad things seem, there will come a time when you realise that things have changed and that you and your child have moved on.  How many times did you feel like a certain behaviour was just going on and on and then a few months later you suddenly realise at some point it just stopped.  I can not remember the day that Jo suddenly stopped biting other toddlers when he was about 2,  I can not remember the day when Jacob stopped caressing my breast for comfort,  I can not even remember the day I stopped breastfeeding Alex, I can not remember the day when Toby stopped whining and used words clearly and succinctly. - all these things just silently and gracefully stopped. 

I remember when my eldest was a baby, he developed colic when he was about 6 weeks old.  After 3 nights, a well meaning friend try to comfort me by saying that colic normally goes by about 12 weeks.  At that time I felt that 12 weeks seemed like an eternity - how was I going to cope with another 8 weeks, 56 more days of inconsolable crying.  I remember wishing that the time would pass quickly but feeling like time was going so slowly. As it turned out, as soon as I stopped consuming dairy products his colic went completely and so he only had it for about a week.  However the point was that it was just another phase that passed and I coped.

So my advice is no matter how bad things get, it will pass. I do not mean that you can just ignore it and hope it will go away - there is still a huge amount of parenting, explaining, communicating and loving that needs doing. However the reward is that once it has passed you will get a new peace (even for a short while) plus you will have learnt new coping strategies, found different ways to teach them how to deal with life and you will have grown as a parent.  So the next time you feel like their tantrums are driving you nuts, or they refuse to eat anything green, or they repeat words they have heard in the playground, take a deep breath, remember that it is just a phase and think of it as an opportunity to help them find a new way to manage the situation and for you to grow as a parent.