There are days I pick my kids up from school or a party, and they are exhausted. Sometimes they shut down, but there are days when they complain or start fighting with each other for what seems like no apparent reason. I find myself getting extremely frustrated with them, and before I know it, we are all having a really freaking bad day.
But there is a reason: they are overtired, had too much sugar, or possibly encountered a stressful situation with a teacher or friend. This is how kids react to those situations — by lashing out or shutting down.
And I keep forgetting that and making the mistake of scolding them or punishing them for their behavior instead of remembering they have feelings and anxiety, too. Kids aren’t always going to know how to handle certain situations, nor do they always know how to communicate their feelings to get what they need. They are children, not mini-adults.
It is hard to remember this tidbit when my youngest son is pulling his sister’s hair and she is trying to get him to stop by whipping him with her ear buds while I am driving down the road trying to blast out their fighting with Harry Styles’ voice.
I mean, I still struggle with this shit myself and I am an adult, so why do I expect them to do any better? Having unrealistic expectations for my kids’ behavior only stresses everyone out. I am not talking about being a brat for the hell of it either. There are times when I expect them to keep up with the rest of the family when they aren’t feeling well or are tired.
I’ve been known to get irritated with them when they forget their lunch box or to feed the dog, yet it is a rarity for me to walk into a room and remember why the hell I am there in the first place. I should also note, I never call my three kids by the right name, ever.
Kids come into this world as selfish creatures. It takes time for them to learn how to share, not scream when they want something, or have a meltdown when they are tired. Like everything else in life, there is a learning curve that takes time and practice to master, and we need to give them that time and realize they are just kids.
Good food, their favorite toys, and friends are their life. To them those are the most important things and they are going to get upset if someone knocks over their ice cream or takes their favorite truck without asking.
Kids can be moody and shy, too. Just because they are small and we think they don’t have any real problems, they are affected by their surroundings and expecting them to never react or absorb negative behavior is expecting too much from them.
Adults can set the bar too high for kids at times, like when we bring them to the park and they just don’t feel like playing, or we surprise them with a trip to their favorite restaurant and they freak out because they aren’t in the mood to be in public.
Newsflash: kids have bad days too. They have moments when they don’t feel quite right. I especially notice it a few days before they come down with an illness; they are extra sensitive and grouchy. Then lo and behold, they are on the sofa for a few days with some kind of virus and it all makes sense.
I certainly cannot be on my best behavior when I am not feeling well but am expected to behave and do all the same activities I do when I am healthy. There are different factors in life that dictate my moods, and when people expect me to be happy and get shit done anyway (namely my kids), I get kind of pissy.
We are all human. Whether we are little kids or full-grown adults, we are going to have bad days, mood swings, and things that bother us. It is so easy to forget our kids feel pressures, heartache and excitement, too. And they are going to show it.
We can guide them to handle their feelings in a healthy, productive way without acting like a huge asshole all the time, but it takes time for them to learn that, and even then they are going to slip up. Lord knows, we adults do it every damn day.