Knowing your child is key.

Being a parent is hard work. It is a labor of love, but they don't call it "labor" for nothing. The job is hard enough with the task of keeping our kids safe and teaching them how to be respectful citizens. Then you add each child's personality into the mix and you quickly see, what works for one, doesn't work for another. And as I'm learning, what suits my personality, doesn't necessarily suit the personalities of my kiddos. That makes this job of raising kids very difficult.

Currently, I am facing how to parent my girl Mini in the most effective way. You see, she has always been strong willed and opinionated. Both of these traits I hope will serve her well as she gets older. As a five year old though, it is mostly an obstacle between her and I. She is very proud and has a difficult time apologizing. She also has a hard time excepting constructive criticism. If you try to assist her, you are most likely to hear in an annoyed tone, "I know!"

Anyway, the big struggle for me is when she is upset. Either mad or sad. I have noticed when she experiences these feelings, she pulls back. She goes to her room and refuses to talk. On one hand, she isn't hurting anyone and she recognizes she needs time alone. But the part I have a hard time is that she wont talk to me. She shuts down if I try to explore her feelings.

I want to talk it out. My personality doesn't like unresolved issues. I need to talk things out to feel peace again. And as a mom, I want to fix every hurt even though I know I can't. It hurts my feelings that she shuts me out. But at least I can recognize it isn't personal, it is just how she deals with her emotions.

Recently, I've told her that it is okay for her to have her alone time. She doesn't have to talk to me right away. But when she is feeling better, I want her to be able to talk to me about what was bothering her. This seemed like a good compromise for us.

This morning we had an opportunity to try this out. Her happy mood quickly took a turn into the Yuck Zone. I attempted once or twice to lighten the mood. Then I pretended nothing happened. We dropped big brother off at school. Then we went to the Y. After I picked her up from the Child Watch, she seemed to be in a much better mood. So I asked if she felt better. Much to my relief, she did. I then asked if she could tell me what happened that made her feel bad. She said she didn't know. I believe she really didn't know. She is only 5. Nothing seemed to have happened to trigger the mood shift. I still have times when I start to feel crappy and I can't pinpoint why. I told her that although I didn't use the word "crappy". I reiterated that when she feels better, I want her to be able to talk about her feelings. Feelings are hard to navigate as an adult. I can only imagine how hard it is for kids.

I tried to remain patient and to not force her to talk. That was very, very hard. But in this instance, I seemed to make the right choice. This experience reinforces to me that this is a difference in our personalities and it will be something she and I will have to work out for the rest of our lives. I feel like I made the right choice this morning. And that feels good. I wont always be able to put aside my natural tendency to talk it out and fix the problems. But I am going to try to do these things so that she will know that her feelings are important. Hopefully, she will also realize as she grows older that I am a safe person to talk to about anything.

Whoa! Heavy stuff. Any words of encouragement or other suggestions would be appreciated.

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