Saturday, October 22, 2016

The kid cycle

I'm not sure if it's coincidence or my super-human parenting skills, but I completely called this evening's meltdown for one of my kids. It's reminiscent of my days working outdoors in the tree industry. When you spend that much time outside, you can learn to feel the pressure changing as a storm approaches and you can almost smell the moisture in the air as it gets close. This ability is very similar to what a parent learns about their kids. 

It doesn't take much to identify the signs warning of an impending meltdown of one of your kids. Maybe it's the attitude changing or possibly the backtalk starting to emerge. Whatever the particular signs may be for your own children - you learn them pretty quickly. I must be so good at parenting now that I can identify these early warning signs subconsciously. The reason I say that is because my daughters were having an amazing morning. They were getting along with each other, having fun and following my direction. I then jokingly posted the following image on Instagram:

Even after I posted this late this afternoon, we continued to enjoy a wonderful evening. We took a family walk through Flandrau State Park here in town followed by a family dinner outing at the Green Mill restaurant. Things went splendidly until 30 seconds before bedtime. I guess technically it was right at bedtime because that's what set off one of my daughters. 

I won't get into all the details, but I can tell you it followed the typical kid cycle. She was happy. She got angry. They she was sorry. (As in "felt bad" - not the punishment fit the crime kind of sorry.) After a "certain amount of time," she was almost back to the happy phase and went to bed. I'm pretty sure she fell asleep about 30 seconds after her head hit the pillow. 

After 7+ years of being a parent, I think I am finally starting to understand this "kid cycle" as I call it. Because I'm a nerd, I made the fun image at the top of this post to help me remember it for next time. It's a learning cycle for both my kids and myself. Being able to identify the repeating cycle goes a long way in acting more rationally as you progress through the stages of the kid cycle. 

The particular daughter who had her meltdown tonight is very much like me. She bottles up her stresses and frustrations until they reach the max and then she snaps. I am unfortunately the same when it comes to reacting to her meltdowns (that have suddenly become more regular). We both go from happy to frustrated/angry in the blink of an eye. In a matter of minutes, she is saying and doing mean things and I am jumping right to taking away tv privileges, toys, books, you name it. We just fuel each others' fires. 

This is probably more my fault than hers since I am the adult. I may like to act like a kid half the time, but when my kids need a parent to be a parent - it's not the time for me to fail them. Let's just say it's a work in progress for all of us. Now that our kids are getting older (and smarter), it's going to take more effort as we work through the kid cycle. I'm really banking on my pretty picture to do the trick. If not that, at least I have my wife here to keep me on track. The kid cycle picture might actually be beneficial for my girls as well. They are both very visual and being able to track where they are on a chart could come in handy. On that note, I am off to bed. Until next time....