Old Habits Die Hard
I don't know about you, but there are certain things that my children do that get on my last nerve! And no matter how hard I try to get them to change, their heels are firmly planted in the cement that is childhood stubbornness. So I have to ask myself, "Why is this so hard to change?" And often, the answer is that I haven't changed.
Change is hard, no matter what age. And yet for some reason, we expect it to be easy for our little ones, even though it is so difficult for us (how often to you stick to every New Years Resolution?).
So I'd like to propose a little experiment that will hopefully nudge you out of your comfort zone and provide an opportunity to be mindful about how hard change actually can be.
THE CHALLENGE: For the next 21 days, brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand (if you're right-handed, use your left and vice versa). Try to notice a few things:
How uncomfortable do you feel?
How difficult are you finding this minor physical change (from 1 - 10)?
After how many days does it start to become easier?
How often to you accidentally forget to use the new hand?
This experience can shed some light (and empathy) on why children often fall back into old habits. Perhaps they're not being stubborn after all? Perhaps they're doing the best they can? Perhaps they need a little more support? Sometimes a little bit of patience and some reassurance goes a long way.
I recently saw an advertisement for a parenting workshop on Facebook. There was a single comment on the ad that said, “Children just need love, like we all do.”
While there is truth to this statement, there is a fundamental element missing.
We all love our children, there’s rarely any doubt about that. This love is unconditional and immeasurable. But sometimes, when times are tough, patience is thin, and stress is high, we lack the tools to cope with our children.
And these tools often don’t come naturally. Mechanics aren’t born knowing how to fix cars, nor are surgeons able to repair hearts without significant prior learning. The expectation that parenting skills “arrive” out of nowhere is almost ludicrous.
So if you ever feel overwhelmed, scared, angry, helpless or in any way lost as a parent, it’s perfectly normal. There are many resources available including books, workshops, and support groups.
Parenting is probably the hardest and undoubtedly the most important job you will ever do, so the more tools you can add to your toolbox, the easier and more enjoyable the journey will be.