Tip #14 Study Your Children
It is astounding to me how often I am just plain wrong. I think I know what I am doing, or how to do something only to discover that I am a fool. This was especially true when I had only one child. He was a pretty easy little guy and I had him trained to obey well by the time we celebrated his second birthday. I knew I had a good kid, but I also had to give myself SOME credit for being consistent. So you can imagine how I felt when the same training tactics FLOPPED with child number two. Not only did they flop, they backfired. That second child of mine bucked every system I had. He was not about to cater to my desires to have TWO well-behaving children. No-sir-ee. I had to eat a lot of crow with that kid. Sorry if you are one of the people I gave parenting advice to prior to February 25, 2004. I was clueless, discompassionate and not helpful. But I sure was confident!
I say all this to make the point that just because you have one child figured out, don't assume you have parenting figured out. Also, don't assume that just because all your children share the same DNA that they are to be parented the same.
What's that? You already knew that?
Anyway, because each child is so different, we should be studying them. Learn what makes them tick, what their needs are, what their love language is, how their little brains work, what their propensities are. Some answers will stay the same over the years, while others will change depending on age and stage. So the studies never end for a mom! Learn learn learn!
1. Your child at play. What kinds of play does he enjoy? Does he use his imagination? What real-life experiences does he act out? Does he want to play next to someone, or with someone? Is the fun in putting a puzzle together or taking it apart? Does he focus on gross motor or fine motor right now? etc, etc.
2. Your child in frustrating moments. What kinds of situations does he find himself in that frustrate her? Is there a situation that comes up time and time again that gets the better of her? Does she like help? Does she hate help? Does she need to cry? Does she respond with anger?
3. Your child and how they relate to their siblings. Is he always following the lead of an older sibling? Is he leading the play? Is he hopelessly in love with the sibling? Does he aim to please? Is he excluded? Does he seem to gravitate to the older siblings and their play? How do the older siblings respond to his desires?
4. Your library: When I want to just understand what's going on inside the mind of a typical child at a certain age I go to the series by Louise Bates Ames. There is a title for every age: "Your One Year Old," "Your Two Year Old," etc. NOTE: I do not recommend her parenting advice, per se, but rather the scientific observations she makes (usually at the beginning of a section). It is so useful to get inside the brain and understand what is physiologically going on in a child's body.
5. Your bookshelf: Start bulking it up when you can with great references like The Five Languages of Children, Don't Make Me Count to Three, Grace-Based Parenting, Parenting with Love and Logic.
6. Your mother-in-law. If a child is not like you, he might be like your husband, so ask what he was like as a kid and how they dealt with it. Even if it seems like terrible advice, it is still valuable because it will give you a window of understanding into that child you otherwise don't get.
7. Your Loving Father in Heaven.This should have been much higher on this list, obviously. It never ceases to amaze me how much wisdom the Lord gives when I ask it. So, ASK!