Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Bad" Habits

I don't like it when people tell me that something I'm doing with or for my child is a bad "habit" to get them into. Case in point--nursing them to sleep. I have always nursed my children to sleep. Always. And know what? My 6.5 year old no longer nurses to sleep...she weaned, all by herself and all on her own time. No tears, no fighting, it just happened. "Breaking" that habit was easy-peesy...because she was ready to give it up.

My point? Instead of the word habit, which implies something bad that will be hard to give up, use the word phase. Erin and Megan have gone through many phases in their short lives--independence phases, picky-eating phases, potty-learning get the point. Phases are expected times in a child's development. So expected, in fact, that you can look them up in parenting books or on-line child development sites. And most information tells you the same thing--that it is "just a phase" and your child will outgrow whatever it is. So there you have it. Is nursing to sleep a phase? Yes. I'm pretty sure Evan won't do it forever. He'll probably wean in the next 1-3 years...and that is such a short, short time in the grand scheme of things!

Many people get so frustrated with their kids for doing things that kids do. I know I have certainly had my moments of frustration over the messy room or disheveled closet. What happens if, at any given moment, you make the assumption that your child is doing the best he/she can to get their needs met at that moment? I can tell you...if you do it right, your whole perspective changes. My child's room is messy...that is true. But the mess was created during their day-long attempt to create the world's biggest blanket fortress EVER. They were doing the best they could at that and not, in anyway, meeting my need for order and neatness. But by looking at it from their viewpoint, my life got a lot easier. And, I'm sure, this blanket fortress phase will not last through college!

The way I see it, I have two choices. I can get frustrated at Evan for needing me at night and force him to "get over it" earlier than would be healthy for him, or I can not get upset at him for doing something that babies do, which is to nurse. Because this phase won't last forever. It really is, "just a phase" and I know how brokenhearted I'll be when it is over. Because you know what?? The good phases don't last forever either. Let's try to remember that.

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