All children can behave in ways that are… not adorable. Big behavior can be exhausting and maddening for even the calmest of parents. But there’s a good reason for this. Children create their distress in their important adults as a way to share the emotional load when that load gets too heavy. This is how it’s meant to be. In the same way that children weren’t meant to carry big physical loads on their own, they also weren’t meant to carry big emotional loads. Big feelings and big behavior are a call to you for support to help them with that emotional load. When you are in front of your child with big feelings, whatever you are feeling is likely to be a reflection of what your child is feeling. If you are frustrated, angry, helpless, scared, it’s likely that they are feeling that way, too.
“When elephants fight, it’s the grass that gets trampled” – Kenyan Proverb
Conflict is not always a bad thing. Many positives come from conflict, not the least of which is learning how to resolve conflict itself in a peaceful and productive manner. Destructive conflict, on the other hand, serves little good. In my practice, I have found that some of the most significant change in clients – kids and adults alike – comes from conflict.
Talking to your kids about ‘the birds and the bees’ is more than just teaching them about sex and reproduction. It encompasses learning about their bodies, healthy relationships, boundaries, diversity, and keeping oneself safe. We know that discussing relationships, body parts, and sex with your child can be uncomfortable and overwhelming for many parents. What age do I start? What if they ask me a question I don’t know how to answer? How much detail should I provide? Will they understand what I’m saying? Many parents today did not have conversations about their body, sex, or sexuality with their parents, so it can be challenging to know where to start, and that’s okay.
“If I was a better parent, my kids wouldn’t argue so much!”
Siblings live in close quarters, and have different temperaments, needs, and emotions. It makes sense that there is conflict between our children. Conflict is natural and normal. This conflict gives our kids opportunities to learn and practice getting along even when we don’t agree. It gives us the chance to teach these skills.
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