Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Toddlers Smell Tired

Just as we learned in Jerry Maguire that dogs and bees can smell fear, small children know when we’re tired. They know it is their opportunity to test the boundaries. They know that if we give in to their little (or really big) wills that they can rule the world… or at least the household. It’s not fair. As parents, we are physically worn out. We chase kids and then we don’t sleep.

Aside about sleep: They sleep twice as much as we do! My kids sleep from 8 to 7 plus a 2 – 3 hour nap. That’s 13 or 14 hours every day!  Personally, I’m feelin’ good if I get 5 in a row plus a few more. If you get less than 3 hours of sleep in a row, God be with you… that’s not a functional amount of sleep. Eight hours of sleep in a 24 hour period is what my midwife recommends and it seems to help keep chaos and utter insanity at bay most days.
Your children know those days that you are especially vulnerable to testing. They know (or at least they think they know) that you will give in. My recommendation to you (and to myself): put on your game face. Your tiredness is no excuse for their misbehavior. And your (read: my) tiredness is no excuse for overly aggressive parenting. When they don’t listen, I tend to think they must have a hearing problem and I raise my voice. Au contraire… the hearing tests reveal that their hearing is better than my own. I don’t have to raise my voice or spank to the point of pain. I can calmly put them back to bed again and again (just the way James Dobson suggests in The Strong Willed Child) in order to keep naptimes a part of our daily routine. I can calmly tell them to pick up their toys. Or more accurately, “pick up your toys. Pick up your toys. Pick up your toys” until it is actually done… with or without both parties crying. It’s more important to parent than to get the house spotless for guests or a lovely feast on the table for your husband. What is more important than the development of their character?

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