Being the single parent of girls is extremely trying at times. Being the single parent of teenaged and preteen girls is curl up in a fetal position, cover your ears, and whisper to yourself, “It’ll be over soon,” over and over again. Understanding that it takes two to argue and one doesn’t have to respond to attempts to start conflict and having distinct expectations and consequences are the keys to successful parenting and relationships in general.
Take, for instance, this typical morning routine. The child complains about having nothing to wear. You know you’ve just done laundry and all their clothes are folded in their room. You tell them so. They continue to say they can’t find anything to wear. You offer to help find clothes and upon doing so, the child refuses every outfit you put forth. Telling them you’ve tried and now they need to find clothes, they continue to say they have nothing to wear. You tell them to get dressed and they say they have nothing to wear. The cycle continues.
Instead of just exerting power and forcing the child to put something on, recognizing what’s really going on is key. Perhaps the child is just tired, didn’t sleep well, or is looking for some attention. Responding with a creative technique could be just enough to diffuse the situation, provide the child with the attention they desire to get them moving again, or just plain have some fun.
The next time something like this happens, try this: lay on the ground in a fetal position in front of the child. Place your hands over your ears and close your eyes. Whisper softly, but loud enough for the child to hear, “Happy place. Happy place. Happy place.” Or this one: jump in front of the child with a huge smile on your face in a boxer’s pose, hands up, dodging and weaving. When the child looks at you like you’re an idiot and asks what you are doing, tell them you are defending yourself from their attacks. Both of these should elicit giggles or laughter, diffusing the situation, and getting the child back on track.
The above ideas are just two simple, creative ideas at diffusing situations, providing the child with necessary attention, and moving things forward productively. Children are of course very individualistic and only you would know the best tact to take. Think of your own possible techniques as they best relate to your child and try them out. The key is doing something off the wall and different to mitigate any arguments, conflict, and frustration.
Besides, the end all, be all parenting tool of, “Because I said so,” only goes to show the child has pushed your buttons to frustration and nobody wins then.