Thursday, April 1, 2010

Week 12 Guilt, Anxiety, Stress

Just what you want to read about today, guilt, anxiety and stress :) The reason I want to chat a bit about this topic is because so many families with small children are worried about doing the "right" things for their children. There is so much pressure out there on parents and perhaps I can give you some thoughts to decrease that pressure.

As parents of children that are typically developing or of children that have some delay, you usually feel at least some guilt. You look at yourself and your spouse and try to figure out what you did that is causing your child to "be" the way they are right now. And so often you are sure that it is something that you are doing or not doing that has caused this situation or is "making" your child be the way they are. Looking backwards and pointing fingers will not help your child make progress and it certainly is not going to make you or anyone in your family feel better.

Let me have you look at it in another way. I am going to share a personal experience that happened with my family. One of my children was switching schools in the middle of 5th grade and was very nervous. This child had been told by their last teacher that they were dumb in math and my child believed that. So when the child met the new teacher the first thing that popped of their mouth was "I am dumb in math". This wonderful teacher and wise woman said to my child "you can't be dumb in math because where you are right now is right where you are supposed to be. My job is to help you learn the next step and the next step so that you can understand math." I will never forget that feeling of joy and respect that I had for that teacher...she understood my child and was going to get them to the next level, with respect and love. Your child is perfect and right where they are supposed to be too, at this point in time. Our job as their family and maybe a professional that is working with your family is to help get your child to the next developmental step. And to do this with love, respect, encouragement and a bit of fun makes life a bit more joyful.

You can drive yourself nuts questioning yourself and your child. Why aren't they talking? What did we do wrong? When are they going to talk? What if they never learn to talk? Why do they hit? Why won't they eat? Why are they so clumsy? etc. etc.

A better way to approach this is to accept your child for who they are, 100%. You love this little person so dearly and instead of comparing them to all the other children their age that are doing things better or faster, just stop and look at this precious child you have that warms your heart and makes you laugh. Meet them where they are functioning now and look for a possible baby step that you can focus on that will help them get to the next level. You are not going to force them or make them reach that next step, but you are going to set up opportunities for your child to learn and grow and try and suddenly, poof, they have made that baby step!!! Woo Hoo!!!

Children can read us very, very well. And they will pick up on the cues you are giving them if you are frustrated or guilty or angry or stressed. And our ultimate goal is to have your child become a confident we don't want them to feel bad about how they are communicating right now. We want them to feel inspired and clever and smart with every sound or sign or grunt or point they make....they are letting us know what they want or what they are thinking and we can act upon that.

Try to block out the media and sometimes even the loving family members that all have tricks and stories about how to "fix" your child. Your child is not broken, they are perfect just as they are. You know what is best for your child. When you are reading and researching and dealing with professionals, always make choices for your child that are based on what feels right to you and that are right for your family. They don't have to be the popular choices or the ones that you are being told to do if they just don't feel right. You will be able to make the best decision for your child if you listen to your gut and look at your family unit and then decide what makes sense.

I hope that this entry might lighten your load a bit. Parenting IS the hardest job out there and I have never met a parent that is not trying the best they can to do the right thing for their child. Feel confident in your choices and try to filter out the noise of all the "you should's" or "you shouldn't"opinions that you will hear. I know that you will do the right thing.

Have a wonderful week. Happy Easter :)

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