We always forget how different and individual each of our children are, how we must change our parenting style with each child.
I have one that needs constant reminders, constant “staying on top off”. He is unbelievably smart, but needs that push to follow through.
Right now, Leo is all boy. He wants rough housing, very few snuggles and the freedom to explore. With some limitations of course. “No Leo, you can’t play in the dogs bowl” comes out of my mouth more times than you can count. He wants to be in everything all the time.
With Boo…it is a gentle touch we have to take with every moment. She is sensitive, so free and fierce with her love and loyalty, but so protective and hurt and someone breaks that loyalty.
With her gentle touch comes her massive levels of perfectionism. Her goals to be the best in everything have caused more than one melt down, more than one night of tears over frustrating work, a game or just not being able to do what she thinks is the correct way because she hasn’t figured it out.
We saw her perfectionism even more so this summer in softball. She was one of the starting pitchers, the first year that this had happened. She has worked so hard to be the best pitcher she can be, to throw the best strikes and the most of them. But when it went wrong…she took it hard. There were many times she would come off the field with tears in her eyes, or even rolling down her face. That was rough.
We learned some tricks for dealing with this side of her long ago, and while it is a constant work in progress, I wanted to share a few of the tricks we learned that can help her and maybe your child.
1- When she gets (another) 100% on her tests/report card we work hard to say “You worked so hard to learn this stuff! Great job!” instead of saying “Another A+! Way to go!”. We want her to see the hard work is the important part, not just the grade that comes with it.
2 – We let her make mistakes, as many as we can. She has to learn to work out through the frustration and anger. We no longer rush to help her figure out a math problem, video game or reading question. We push her to work through them, to slow down and think about it from the beginning. It has worked really well with her, she get the problem figured out 90% of the time.
3 – When Boo started softball, we made sure she understood that she was just starting, she was not going to be the best right away. It took time, practice and patience to become a better player. Having started as the player that couldn’t even field a ball, to one that is a leader on the team was something that took a lot of work. She was so proud when she caught her first pop-fly, hit her first double and threw her first change-up. She isn’t afraid to work, but with that we have to set limitations (see 4)
4 – Setting a time limit/pitch count limit on the amount of time that she is allowed to work on something can help. Some days she will sit at the table working on math problems (even in the summer) for hours. One week she went through an entire workbook, all 200 pages of it. She loves to figure things out, but if she is free to just sit and work on things like this it can backfire when it really counts at school.
5- Most importantly, we are there for her. We listen when she is frustrated, mad and sad. We allow her to feel however she is at that moment, and then work through it. Sometimes all it takes is reassurance that it is okay to have bad day and rough homework. She can be frustrated she didn’t Ace a test, as long as we help her get to the fact that it is okay she didn’t.
We have learned a lot over the years we have been parents. The best lesson being how to parent and love each child as they need. Watching them each grow is such a blessing, and a stressful as you very well know. But learning as we go along, and sharing the lessons we learn has been my favorite part.