What Makes Parenting Overwhelming And What To Do About It

The “Testy” Child
And How To Ace The Test!

By Bob Lancer

Life occasionally challenges us with situations that test us to our core.  Since a child is a part of life, when you have children, or when you work with children, some of those trials arrive through the child. No matter how hard a child tries to please you, life will find a way to press you hard against your limits through that child.

The most severe form of trial occurs to a parent, obviously, when the child’s health suffers, the most extreme being when the child passes.  The most common form occurs through a challenging child behavior.

When children incessantly demand your attention, deliberately behave in ways that they anticipate will bother you, stubbornly make unreasonable or impossible demands, argue heatedly and irrationally, appear to intentionally treat another child or a pet in a cruel manner, or relate with you as a mere plaything or lackey supposed to do his bidding rather than a person worthy of his utmost respect, consideration and care, you may feel overly taxed to the point of utter overwhelm, particularly after a long day of giving your relationship with that child everything you have.

But since life behaves this way, and the child is really just playing out his part in life, the child is really not responsible for making life seem so hard.  The child cannot protect you from the way life is, nor does she have responsibility for doing so. Forgetting this fact of life, we over-react with excessively harsh personal criticism, blaming the child for the pain of our overly intense, self-punishing strain to be in control.

We have responsibility for leading a child into responsible self-conduct, but that does not include lashing out at a child as the cause of our sense of overwhelm.  Imposing a demand, expectation or standard upon the child that she cannot live up to, makes her confused, and a confused child displays lower performance than one who has a clear sense of herself and believes in her ability to make appropriate choices.

In fact, when you react with a show of much stress and strain to a child’s behavior, the child derives from that a sense of power over you, a loss of respect for you, and a loss of trust in you that encourages him to do that again, however harsh your reaction.

The first step to passing through these inevitable tests in a way that leads the child effectively in a healthy way is to distinguish between the child’s action and your reaction. You are responsible for your responses. Life really only seems too hard because you are stressing yourself out in an unbalanced effort to establish control.

The next step is to apply the awareness and self-control you need to maintain your peace, poise and power in the present so that you can align your responses with the results you want instead of reacting in blind frustration. __

When life feels too hard, it’s time to take it easier, to trust, to let go, to lighten up.  Stepping up the pressure on yourself makes you blow up, it does not help your child grow up. You cannot instill better self-control in a child while you are losing yours.