What I learned about having a Challenging Child

I believe that giving a challenging child all the tools you possibly can and a lot of love can impact the outcome for that child’s future immensely.

Some people have children and they come out highly functioning and with all the cuteness that childhood joy brings to parents. They have the normal tantrums, potty training issues, food fights and chaotic moments, but for the parent with a challenging child each day is a new struggle of unknown. You wake happy, ready to start this day out fresh and prepared to erase the turmoil from yesterday. You’ve learned that you have no clue if today or heck even this morning will be a “good one”. Not to mention how your definition of a “good day” has changed so drastically, because as the parent with a challenging child you have probably learned to love the days with normal tantrums and food fights. These days of normal issues begin to fill your heart with joy. All you ever want in life is for your child to be happy, and having these normal issues helps children to grow and learn. For the challenging child, they miss out on learning sometimes because their emotions are too much for them to handle or comprehend. As a parent you want to help, knowing your not able to at times is the hardest part.

I cry sometimes because I just wish my child could feel happiness more easily. My first born son was extremely happy (all the time) and I never knew how emotionally well he was until I experienced the polar opposite with my other child. I watch my son struggle at times to be happy and cope with normal issues. This is out of my control, I’ve tried many methods and at the end of all the different approaches I’ve learned to throw out any rules of how it “should be” and work with my son. It’s a daily balancing act, will I attack this behavioral issue or will I focus on lower the anxiety in my child first. Sometimes people will look at me as if I’m letting my child get away with certain behaviors and they couldn’t be more wrong, all while being completely correct. I have one thing to say, until you have dealt with a challenging child, and I’m not talking typical tantrums, fighting and back talk; I’m talking extreme out burst, uncontrollable daily mood swings and delays, then I urge you to not judge. This parent (of a challenging child) has way more battles than worrying about giving in to that extra cookie or ignoring that child’s back talk in the moment. Do not worry, they probably and hopefully will address how to tackle these issues with their child’s professional social worker or psychologist. Just remember they are fighting a battle everyday, most trying their damnedest to help their child.

You will cry more, you will get upset with your child more, you will want to give up some days, you will get frustrated with why things can not just be easier, but you know what else you will do…learn this new kind of love as a parent of a challenging child. You know what kind of love I’m talking about if you are that parent. You begin to look at the world different, at people different and you learn to be more sensitive to people who struggle in life. You look at other parents who are struggling to control their children in public with compassion and most importantly without judgement. You want to help in ways you never have before, and your heart becomes bigger than you could have ever imagined. For this challenging child, as difficult as the days, has a purpose in this world. It’s our job as parents to put on our war paint and get in there, to deal with the turmoil the best we can. No, of course you didn’t imagine having a child to be this difficult, but you also never expected to love this challenging child so much.

The small hurdles feel like triumphant miracles to the parent with a challenging child. When that child has a good day, holds it together for that family party, later, you’ll probably return home for them to unleash all the built up anxiety on you. You will become thankful for the day of “normal” moments you just had and get through that current collapse of behavior. You learn just being there is all you can do in the moments of complete ciaos and hugging them when they are being uncontrollable is sometimes all they need. You get up everyday and decided to give it your best try at a “good, normal day” whether your met with screams or giggles entering your child’s room. It’s emotionally draining sometimes, but you some how muster up the strength to find a way and help your child everyday. Even if that day you just eat donuts and give up on how you “should” be parenting!

Don’t give up, even on the most difficult days, just hold on…

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