Despite our best intentions as mothers, some kids go through really tough phases. If you find yourself struggling to show love to a certain little one, you’re not alone!
When I first became a mom, I remember just kind of assuming that not only did moms always love their kids, but they always liked being around them, no matter what! It wasn’t until Liam became a naughty toddler that I saw just a glimpse of the other side of motherhood: the challenge of loving a difficult child.
Now, in the grand scheme of things, our family has had it pretty easy: no kids with special needs or major health issues, no diagnosed behavioral or mental health problems. And yet, I’ve found myself struggling to show love to some of my kids when they’ve exhibited less than lovable behavior. That’s not an easy thing to admit as a mom…but if you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone!
After Liam’s naughty preschool years, my first real struggle with this came with our older twin, the fiery redheaded Vivian (in fact I often blame her spunkiness on that wild hair!). She has pushed me beyond the limits of my patience more times than I can count. She has a mind of her own and when determined, she simply cannot be convinced otherwise. In fact, if she had been my first child, I might have seriously questioned my mothering abilities!
Vivian’s now getting considerably more mature and easy to reason with- but she’s still a spicy little one. Finn has now become my more challenging child, and sometimes it just breaks my heart that I spend all day dealing with his outbursts instead of enjoying his cute face and personality.
It’s also extremely frustrating to parent these difficult children in public. For example, I’ve learned that Finn’s meltdowns are best diffused with humor or distraction but when we’re out in public, I feel pressured to scold him when he acts naughty. It’s a struggle to remain calm and collected when strangers are staring and judging you and your screaming child!
In the end, I try to remember a few important things when I’m dealing with a child in a naughty phase:
1. Separating the child from the behavior is one of the most powerful ways of continuing to love our sweet kids, even when they’re driving us completely crazy.
Our kids are good people who sometimes struggle with bad behavior. Just as our mistakes as adults don’t define us, kids are also allowed to throw fits and melt down without being classified as “bad”.
2. Keeping my cool as a mom goes a long way in helping my children overcome their emotional outbursts. When children are dealing with a lot of crazy emotions and frustrations, it’s important for their grown up to stay calm and rational (when anyone figures out how to do this while a toddler is kicking you and screaming he hates you, let me know, eh??).
3. Showing more love is always helpful. I know how hard it is to give compassion to a child who’s hurting others or pushing your buttons, but I believe this is what we all need the most!
Hang in there moms! And, next time you see another mom at the grocery store pushing a screaming child around in a cart with a maniacal look on her face, just give her a fist bump and maybe slip her kid some candy.