Reasons Why Parenting Cliches are Right- Simple Solutions Solve BIG Problems

5 Reasons Why Parenting Cliches are Right- Simple Solutions Solve Big Problems

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This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated 2/12/2019

 

There have been many, many times during my career working with children and families that I have wondered “How in the world I am employed??”

I really should be out of a job.

After all, I teach the most obvious things. It’s just basic parenting skills- things like:

You know, all the everyday stuff that parents deal with. Nothing special.

And I got paid pretty well for it too, considering it’s information that everyone knows already. WHY was/is my advice worth money to so many people???

pink and white flowers

I was constantly surprised that the most basic of solutions solved gigantic problems– the kind of problems that terrorized families for years. It wasn’t me! It’s not like I invented some amazing cure to make every kid turn out perfectly.

I didn’t do anything revolutionary.

Just the same, old fashioned, good bits of advice that everyone knows. Or so I thought. Until I started teaching a lot of parents who DID NOT know. 

Granted, I went to school and had a lot of experience doing this stuff.

I started to wonder if parenting clichés aren’t as obvious as I thought they were.

  • Did I know them just because I was trained to know them?
  • If I hadn’t had the education I had and the jobs I had, would I be just as surprised to find out these “obvious” things as the other parents were?
  • Or maybe it’s just that nothing about parenting is obvious?

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Here’s what I found out.

1) The Turn Off- Why Clichés are BAD!

Lots of parents seemed surprised when I offered my advice. I assumed their surprise meant that this was either 1) A new concept for them or 2) they had never considered that an old cliche could fit their situation.

Now, I believe that both assumptions were wrong.

With a little more digging, I learned that most (if not all) parents knew the material I was presenting- at least in theory. They knew that kids need social experiences, healthy food, consistent routines, and appropriate challenges.

And yet, something was blocking the follow through for these parents so that those things weren’t happening.

footprints on sand

My next question was, “If they know these things already…. 1) Where is the problem happening? and 2) Why are they surprised to hear something they already know?”

After a lot of thought and observation, I started dividing my clients into two groups based on their reactions to the parenting advice I presented.

Here are the two categories of parents- using a Bible story to illustrate.

1-THE COMMANDER:

The Bible tells a story of a great commander. He led a strong army and held great prestige- until he contracted leprosy. In desperation, he searched out a prophet and healer in the hopes of being cured.

The healer advised him to wash seven times in the River Jordan and the leprosy would be cured. Now, the River Jordan is a muddy, filthy, sad excuse of a “river”. Not the beautiful rivers we typically think of.

The commander is immediately offended. He refuses to stoop to that level to bathe himself in mud. He is of high status and power after all! So, he leaves angrily and does not even try the healer’s suggestion.

If I could put this attitude into words, here’s how it would sound:

“I am surprised that you are offering me such a simple solution. I have already tried all the simple solutions and won’t try any more. If it were simple, I could think of the answer on my own. I will not try your solution because it is too easy and therefore must be invalid.”

man kneeling

2-THE SERVANT:

The Bible story continues:

As the commander is angrily riding home in his chariot, his servant thinks over what just happened.

Eventually, the servant works up enough courage to challenge the commander. The servant reminds the commander that if the healer had asked him to try some grand, spectacular, courageous thing to earn his health back, the commander would have tried it. Gladly. 

Why then would the commander refuse to complete something that is easy and simple?

The commander is humbled. He follows the healer’s suggestions and is cured of his leprosy.

If I could put this attitude into words, here’s how it would sound:

“I am surprised that you are offering me such a simple solution. It seems like I have already tried something similar to that, but I will try again. If it works, my problem could be solved! If not, I’m not out anything and may even be closer to a solution. Why not try?”

The problem with clichés is that people don’t accept them anymore.

By definition, they are overused and that takes away from the power and truth of what is being said- even when it’s exactly the right answer to a problem. 

2) Facing Reality- Why Clichés are GOOD!

The problem with clichés being bad is that they’re not! Clichés are good!

yellow arrow road sign

They are almost always right! That’s WHY they are overused.

People repeat them and repeat them because they are true. They are universal. They help in a variety of situations and problems.

The problem with clichés isn’t the cliché. The problem with clichés is that people get too prideful to accept them because they’ve heard them before.

It’s easy to assume that because I have heard the phrase many times, I must be living it perfectly. But I’m not.

The problem isn’t the cliché- the problem is the person.

3) It’s NOT Obvious When You’re In It

I’m not saying people are idiots.

I believe most people are smarter than even they understand.

But being inside a real live, explosive situation is infinitely different than observing from the outside.

The answers seem obvious when you are looking in objectively, even though they are not obvious to those who are swamped with emotions and frustrations and a million other things going on.

black smoke burst in brown open field at daytime

When I became a parent, I was surprised that I didn’t have all the answers.

I know, how silly and prideful could I be?

But I assumed that I had seen enough and learned enough that parenting would be easier. But it wasn’t and it’s because of this principle. I was too involved to see clearly (and also acting like the Commander from the scenario above). 

I can see things in other people’s lives (because I’m an objective bystander) that I can’t see in my own (because I’m emotionally attached to the situation).

And I believe that others can see things in my life that might not be clear to them in their own life- for the same reasons.

4) If It Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It

Sometimes we can see places that we could improve. But it’s still hard to make it happen.

When I became a parent, I found that I had to force myself to live the principles that I had always taught to other parents… and I was surprised to find that I didn’t want to!

I didn’t want to because it was hard.

woman wearing pink tank top holding wood stick during sunrise

Even though I knew that those typical parenting bits would work, it was still hard.

I had to change old habits and create new ones that fit into this new world of responsibility and teaching. That gave me new empathy for all the parents that I had taught.

I realized that even though you know a cliché (but true) fact, it is harder to put it into practice EVERY SINGLE DAY. Often multiple times a day.

Why don’t we have a plethora of perfect parents running around? Because the grind of the day to day gets to people.

If we could all focus on our parenting and nothing else, I bet we could perfect it. But we can’t. We need energy and time and focus for all the other things in our lives that we are responsible for- jobs, taking care of our home, supporting our community.

Parenting is hard, so we mess up sometimes. Even at the things that we know.

5) Emotional Support Goes a Long Way

There was one last surprise for me in all my observations.

There seemed to be a third category that I didn’t notice at first, beyond the “Commanders” and the “Servants” from the Bible story.

I don’t really know what to call it… But if I could put the attitude into words, it would sound like this:

“I know what I need to do. I am humble enough to try your suggestions. I just can’t do it on my own. All I need is a little extra push. I need someone to keep me on track or someone to tell me I’m doing a good job or someone to remind me why what I’m doing is important. I just don’t want to be left alone with all this on my shoulders.”

group of people hand gesture

I loved working with these parents. These were parents who knew what to do, but they lacked confidence in themselves.

With just a tiny push from friends and loved ones, they were wonderful and successful parents. They often excelled at the principles we taught as soon as they learned to trust themselves as parents.

Sometimes we don’t follow clichés just because our struggle is something different, something inside ourselves.

A little help goes a long way!

Clichés are Cliché for a Reason

What is a cliché?

Something that has been said so much that it is overused.

But what motivates people to repeat something that much? Something that everyone has heard already?

Because it is true, it works, and it’s universal.

To me, a cliché is a simple principle that applies to almost anyone’s life in a variety of different situations.

 

This blog is full of clichés.

And that’s on purpose.

Parenting clichés work.

And I don’t want to or know how to reinvent the wheel. I’m not smart enough. So I’ll stick to what smarter people than me have said. And repeated. Over and over.

Even if you’ve heard it before…. Because it works.

And I’ll try along with you to be a little better at applying those clichés into my day-to-day.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

Please share with any parent who feels cliché.

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Photo by Kevin Borrill on Unsplash

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Insane Ways Sensory Needs Impact Children Without Autism

3 Insane Ways Sensory Needs Impact Children WITHOUT Autism

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This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated: 2/1/2019

Some of you might be familiar with the concept of sensory overload. Every person on the planet has experienced it at some time in their life, even if they didn’t have a word for it.

Sensory needs are more commonly discussed in families with children with special needs. Science has proven that sensory experiences contribute to children’s behavior and reactions to daily events.

Children with special needs often experience their senses differently than the rest of us, so those families learn about how their child perceives sensory experiences and adjusts accordingly. 

This isn’t just for children with special needs. Every child has sensory needs, wants, and dislikes. All parents need to learn and adjust for our children’s sensory needs! 

What are Sensory Needs?  

Our body is constantly perceiving the world around us through our 5 senses- smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight. There is a “6th sense” that contributes to our daily experiences- motion.

Each person has a limit to how much of everything their body can take in.

man closing his ear

Lucky for us, our body naturally shields some of the input from our various senses. There are things that we “sense” but we don’t take notice of. If we did, we would simply go crazy because the amount of input is just too much to process. For example:

  • When’s the last time you noticed the hum of your refrigerator? Does the ceiling fan make a sound? Do you unconsciously make noise, such as tapping a pencil or sighing?
  • What about the feel of the carpet beneath your bare feet? Or the feel of your shoes against the top and bottom and sides of your foot? Do your shoes feel different on your heel compared to your toes? Do you feel textures of the ground you walk on through your shoes?
  • Can you taste your own saliva? (I know, kinda gross, but it illustrates the point that all 5 senses are constantly picking up on things but we don’t notice.)
  • Or maybe the motion of your walk? Do you swing from side to side? Do you walk quickly or slowly? Do you stomp your feet down or do you step delicately?
  • Are the light bulbs in your house tinted yellow or are they white? What order are the colors of the “Google” letters?

See, there’s a million examples! We just can’t take it all in so our body filters out the stuff that it doesn’t find important.

How does it decide what’s important? You tell it. Whatever you choose to focus on is brought to the forefront and the rest is on back burner.

This is all cool stuff, but how does this relate to parenting?

1) Selective Hearing is Real

A teenager is sitting on the couch playing video games.

His mom walks by and says “Hey, can you bring your dirty clothes to the laundry room? I’m starting a load of whites.”

The kid absently says “Mmmhmmm.” No eye contact.

Mom walks away, trying to give him his space. In 20 minutes, the kid still hasn’t brought mom his laundry.

This time, she stands right in front of the TV and demands to know why he hasn’t completed the chore yet.

Confused, the kid’s first question is “What are you talking about??”

I see this with my younger kids all the time. “Don’t touch the scissors” seems to translate into “Hey, these are a really cool toy- Please play with them!”

My daughter is often genuinely confused when I ask her why she didn’t listen the first time.

I am usually even more frustrated by this because I feel ignored. It’s good for me to remember that the confusion is real because my child literally can’t hear me.

No, she doesn’t have any hearing problems.

It’s just that sensory stuff coming into play.

selective focus photography of woman holding clear glass ball

She’s focused on something, so her mind is filtering out unnecessary sensory input that does not relate to what she is focused on.

Yep, I count as unnecessary sensory input to her subconscious mind. Flattering. 

How can I improve my chances of having positive communication with my kids?

  • Be patient, and understand that she isn’t trying to annoy me.
  • When I give a direction, make sure I have eye contact first.
  • Limit distractions before I give a direction, such as pausing the game or turning off the TV for a minute.
  • Say her name to get attention rather than just talking into space. “Hey” doesn’t always cut it because the child doesn’t realize you are talking to them.

2) When Your Child is Upset or Emotional, Sensory Input can Overload his System

When a person gets angry or emotional, sensory input goes haywire.

selective focus photography of grumpy face toddler sitting on plaid pad taken during daytime

That’s because your body is in fight or flight mode. Physiological changes occur that are intended to keep you safe from danger.

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure rise.
  • You breathe faster.
  • You think less and react more. (Again, this is intended to keep you safe from primitive types of dangers, like being eaten by a dinosaur.)
  • Your sensory system hyper-focuses in on the immediate danger (or problem that is causing the stress).
    • If you ever hear stories of people who were in life or death situations, often they report exaggerated facts from the scene- Not on purpose, but because their body really perceived the event differently due to this hyper-focus.
    • For example, someone who was attacked by an average sized bear might mistakenly report that the bear was huge, many times its actual size.
  • Your sensory system is on red alert to keep you safe so it doesn’t do as well at sorting out some information. Besides that, the reactions of your body (heart rate, blood pressure, breathing) are additional forms of sensory input that you don’t usually deal with, so your body has even more input to sort through! And it’s already behind! For example, the pounding in your head from your increased blood pressure is a sensory experience that adds to the existing stress.

When your child is in this mode, his already underdeveloped brain doesn’t stand much of a chance at thinking logically through the situation. No wonder all this crazy emotion often leads to tantrums!

A common mistake I make in this situation is trying to jump into the logical explanations before the child is calmed down.

First, get the sensory experience under control and then you can get around to the explaining.

3) When You are Upset or Emotional, Sensory Input can Overload YOUR System

Oh yeah, all that stuff that we said above about your kid feeling sensory overload?

That all applies to you too.

So take care of yourself. If you catch yourself feeling overwhelmed by a situation, there’s a 99% chance your body is in sensory overload.

Use the same steps as above to make sure you’re ok before you deal with the situation.

Seriously. Take care of yourself. Nobody will take care of your kid if you don’t. And you can’t take care of your kid if you’re overloaded.

woman wearing green top

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

A Quick Word on Sensory Experiences and Autism (And Other Disabilities)

For all of you parents of children with Autism (or other disabilities), let’s chat about how children with disabilities (especially autism) often experience their 5 senses (and the 6th sense- motion) differently than we do.

  • four person holding assorted-color jigsaw puzzles inside room

Imagine the possibilities for that simple fact to impact every moment of their lives!

  • Imagine if you couldn’t tune out the “drip, drip, drip, drip” of a broken faucet.
  • Imagine if every fluorescent light you ever saw was constantly flickering, but nobody else seemed to see it.
  • Imagine if the tag on your shirt was covered in itching powder and constantly rubbed against your neck.

Luckily, this sometimes works in reverse too.

  • Imagine if the swish of the swings were just as energizing and exciting as riding a roller coaster!
  • Imagine if you could see more vibrant colors.
  • Imagine how music must sound!
  • Imagine how warm, secure, and perfect a hug would feel- beyond our everyday comprehension!

No wonder these children experience some of the purest joy in life. But, no wonder they also experience random and confusing moments of frustration and intense anger.

When I am around these children, I try to identify the sensory experiences that the child loves, as well as the ones that bother them.

This takes a lot of trial and error, but I have a chance to make their life and my own life so much more enjoyable by identifying a few of those aspects. If I can identify and control even a few of them, I can eliminate unnecessary heartache in the already difficult life of a parent who is raising a child with disabilities.

This can also add to the joy of that child’s life. A life that faces unfair hardships. I want to give them as much joy as I possibly can. This is a great way to do it.

Whether you are a parent of a child with disabilities or not, understanding sensory needs and sensory overload can help parents eliminate problems before they start or deescalate upset children.

  • and breathe neon sign on tre

I hope this concept makes your lives a little easier and takes away some of those times when Fit Hits the Shan.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

Please share this post with any parent who needs to understand children’s sensory needs!

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