My four year old is stressed out. I can’t get her to eat, she is constantly whining and incredibly high strung. She is obsessively playing “school” with her dolls and is just plain frantic about anything and everything. She is also testing every possible boundary that she can.
I know it is normal for children to act out and test boundaries. I also know that if I were to take her to a doctor, I would be told that is just fine and is acting her age.
And I get all that, Stella has been through all this before, and eventually she settles down and is just fine.
But today I am doing a different parenting exercise: I want to look at life from a child’s perspective.
Stella is four years old. She spends 9+ hours a day, 5 days a week at daycare, where she is basically in the same room for most of the day, with the same kids, biding time until the end of the day. Stella knows that I am going to pick her up every evening, but I am sure there is a little piece of her that worries I will not come back.
What would happen to her if her mommy didn’t show up? It is not like she can just get herself home and make dinner. Stella’s entire life is based on trusting that the grown-up she is with has her best interests in mind.
Chew on that for a minute.
Stella understands that there is 5 days of school and work and 2 days of no school and work, but does not quite get the concept of days of the week and what they mean. So basically, every night, she does not know what to expect for the next day – something that we usually discuss multiple times each evening. Similar can be said for any event or holiday. She knows Christmas is coming, but doesn’t grasp the concept that it is 20 some days away, something we will end up discussing every day.
Her Daddy travels a lot for work. But she can’t just look at the calendar and see that he is going to be gone only 2 days this week and 4 the next. He leaves when he leaves and gets home when he gets home.
We also discuss this on a daily basis, but imagine not really knowing what each day means – and relying on someone else to tell you what to expect.
Suddenly you feel like you have no real sense of control over life – huh?
Look, I am not writing all this in hopes that people will have sympathy for my child. Her life experiences are pretty similar to most kids and she is very fortunate – she doesn’t have to worry about her next meal or where she is going to sleep. I am just trying on a new perspective for a minute.
It is funny, as adults, we forget what it was like to be a child. We remember the carefree days of no responsibilities and being able to play for hours. We get impatient with children when they have a hard time coping with the small things. I feel those are the times when it is most important to look at life from the little’s ones perspective.
I am not saying we should coddle our children. After all, the world can be harsh and cruel, and our children should be ready to deal with challenges and be able to cope. I just think that before we react, we should stop and think.
After all, if we are spending a lot of our time putting ourselves “in the shoes of the client”, then why can’t we spend some time putting ourselves “in the shoes of our children”.