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Natural Birth & Parenting Natural Birth & Parenting

Empathizing with my children doesnt come naturally to me.

Posted by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:42 AM
  • 10 Replies
It did when they were babies. And I am a pretty compassionate and empathetic person in general. But between the ages of 2ish and whenever it is that seemingly little things stop bothering them somuch, I have a really hard time. I'm realizing that it is playing a big role in how I interact and treat them. I have said things that I am ashamed of. "Too bad, this is the way it is" type of stuff. I frequently don't realize when something seemingly small is truly bothering them. I forget how raw and intense the emotions of small children are... until I remember experiencing them myself.

When I was little my feelings were frequently completely disregarded. I remember being told "too bad". I remember being yanked along by a much bigger and stronger person and how humiliating it was for my feet not to have purchase on the floor as I was led away from a situation. I remember being told to stop my crying and being utterly powerless to stop it because I wasnt crying to get my way, like they thought, I was crying because I was sad or angry or disappointed. No one seemed to care how I FELT, only how I behaved. I want SO much better for my kids. I want them to know that their feelings matter to me. Because they absolutely do. But those old patterns come out a lot for me. I don't know how to deal with the disappointment of a 4 year old who didn't get the right colored cup without telling her it doesn't matter and to get over it. Or the anger of a two year old who isn't happy that his sister got the last bite of the dessert we were all sharing.

Has anyone else had to work hard at empathizing with your small children? Can someone tell me itgets easier? That if I keep at it it will eventually come more naturally to me? I thought all parents felt this way about their kids' outbursts and emotional reactions, but I'm realizing that that is not necessarily true. I'm getting better slowly, and how they feel matters to me. I just don't know what to do except shut down.
by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:42 AM
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Replies (1-10):
jconney80
by Group Mod on Jan. 8, 2013 at 1:15 AM
1 mom liked this
It's easy to remember how those things felt as a kid but hard when you're the parent having to deal with multiple children all screaming over wanting their way. My kids are all very strong willed and very particular about everything. They each want a different cup then when the other one has one they want now they scream over wanting that one. I'm not really sure how you can balance this stuff honestly. If my life revolved around making my kids happy over every single little thing I'd have no time to do anything else. I think in this case you need to pick your battles. Every child experiences disappointment over things like what color cup they want but it is our job to help them through in a way that is respectful while letting them know that there are boundaries. I mean we all need help understanding that we can't get our way all the time in life right? But we can help our kids through their emotions and still be respectful.

I honestly think you're being too hard on yourself about little things that don't really matter in the bigger picture. Just because you are not giving in to giving them all of these little tiny things that could really take up your day doesn't mean you're not respecting them..I hope I'm not sounding too harsh here. I certainly don't mean it that way.

I think validating your child's feelings can help you both feel better but still letting them know that they are just going to have to get over some things (obviously without conveying that to them lol). "I know you're upset that your brother is using your Cars cup but maybe next time you can use it" then redirect or distract.

I have to deal with lots of little things like this all day long. All of my kids have Aspergers and blow up over not getting things just how they want it. I understand that to them it feels like it's the end of the world but I have to balance it all. So I can still be respectful and set boundaries. Does that make sense? I don't think being respectful in parenting = never letting them feel disappointment.
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jconney80
by Group Mod on Jan. 8, 2013 at 1:19 AM
I also think that if we give and take in balancing our needs and wants with our kids needs and wants we can make them feel better about their disappointments or see that being disappointed isn't always the end of the world and good things do come after. I try to put good things after things they don't like lol. It kind of makes them feel like it's not so bad and gives them something to look forward to.
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Sarah725
by Group Mod - Sarah on Jan. 8, 2013 at 9:54 AM
Its probably easiest to behave how you were brought up, dont be to hard on yourself. As long as you can recognize it and are working on it yhats whats important.
bloomsr
by Bronze Member on Jan. 8, 2013 at 10:16 AM
When you say something you regret, apologize to them. Try to catch yourself the next time. It helps for me to say my mantra "I am not a yeller" every morning and before I lose my cool w my kids (my parents were always yelling at us when I was growing up- I do not want to repeat that life for my children). Maybe saying "I am patient and understanding of my children's feelings" could help you? I know it sounds super corny, but it has really helped me.

Also, take a minute to look at your kids. See how small they are. I sometimes forget that my kids (just turned 5, nearly 3 and 11 months old) are so young- well, not the baby- taking a step back and appreciating their littleness helps me too.

The book "How to Talk so kids Will Listen and how to Listen so Kids will talk" has a lot of helpful techniques in it, too:)

You are doing your best. Acknowledging that you want to change is a huge step!!
larissalarie
by Gold Member on Jan. 8, 2013 at 10:29 AM
1 mom liked this
I agree, I think you're doing fine. I think you're confusing the negative emotions you felt over the HARSHNESS of how you were treated with a lack of empathy about kids being upset over silly things they really do need to just get over.
Unless you are dragging your kid outta the kitchen by the arm yelling at them to get over it and deal with the red cup, you are comparing the incomparable.

People who were treated harshly can go to far the other way and indulge their child's every whim which is just as damaging to them in life. You don't want to raise the spoiled, overindulged kiddo who everyone sites as an example of why you need to yell & spank :-)
Disappointment is a part of life and learning that young over some of the little things is a valuable life lesson that will help them deal with bigger disappointments when they're older.


Quoting jconney80:

It's easy to remember how those things felt as a kid but hard when you're the parent having to deal with multiple children all screaming over wanting their way. My kids are all very strong willed and very particular about everything. They each want a different cup then when the other one has one they want now they scream over wanting that one. I'm not really sure how you can balance this stuff honestly. If my life revolved around making my kids happy over every single little thing I'd have no time to do anything else. I think in this case you need to pick your battles. Every child experiences disappointment over things like what color cup they want but it is our job to help them through in a way that is respectful while letting them know that there are boundaries. I mean we all need help understanding that we can't get our way all the time in life right? But we can help our kids through their emotions and still be respectful.



I honestly think you're being too hard on yourself about little things that don't really matter in the bigger picture. Just because you are not giving in to giving them all of these little tiny things that could really take up your day doesn't mean you're not respecting them..I hope I'm not sounding too harsh here. I certainly don't mean it that way.



I think validating your child's feelings can help you both feel better but still letting them know that they are just going to have to get over some things (obviously without conveying that to them lol). "I know you're upset that your brother is using your Cars cup but maybe next time you can use it" then redirect or distract.



I have to deal with lots of little things like this all day long. All of my kids have Aspergers and blow up over not getting things just how they want it. I understand that to them it feels like it's the end of the world but I have to balance it all. So I can still be respectful and set boundaries. Does that make sense? I don't think being respectful in parenting = never letting them feel disappointment.
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pipers_mom
by Member on Jan. 8, 2013 at 2:58 PM
I have to try EVERY moment of every day to empathize, be kind, and just care. I've always been a very angry person, that is my natural base mood. It's hard, and I screw up alot. When I catch myself not caring, I stop and breath, count to 4, apologize and then I can be kind and empathize. My oldest is almost 8yo, so I've been working on it for a long time but it does get easier!
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tabi_cat1023
by Group Mod - Tabitha on Jan. 8, 2013 at 5:03 PM

I have an issue once they hit about 5, I think its because I teach at school all day and see the same crap and can only empathize so much before they run all over me and take over the classroom

EthansMomma2010
by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 5:40 PM

 there is a huge difference between caring about your childrens feelings, not having unrealistic expectations, and taking time to comfort them.....and empathisizing to the point of losing all power in a given situation. you can't always make a child want to do something they need to but if you overempathisize or bargain to get them to do it, then they will never learn to do anything they don't want to do. which is unfortunately a part of life.

i'm not saying you actually do this, i'm saying to be careful of the empathy path. Too much empathy can ruin a child just as easily as too much discipline or harsh words.

randhferedinos
by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 5:52 PM
When my kids cry about, say, getting a different color cup than the one they wanted, I empathize and say " I'm sorry you didn't get the one you wanted to have." But I then ask if they want water, or no water, very nicely because it helps them to snap out of the nasty "gimme,gimme" attitude. I think it's really important for kids to experience disappointment and learn to manage their emotions and be able to move on from disappointment.

Only a couple of times my son has decided he doesn't want to drink out of the cup that he didnt like. (That choice lasted about 5 minutes, lol)

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gbcmom
by on Jan. 9, 2013 at 9:49 AM
This. Only add selfish to me as well. Angry and selfish together is not a good combination. I love my kids more than life, and I try everyday to be a better parent.


Quoting pipers_mom:

I have to try EVERY moment of every day to empathize, be kind, and just care. I've always been a very angry person, that is my natural base mood. It's hard, and I screw up alot. When I catch myself not caring, I stop and breath, count to 4, apologize and then I can be kind and empathize. My oldest is almost 8yo, so I've been working on it for a long time but it does get easier!

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