Al-Anon for Preschool Parents

Once a term my daughter’s school holds community night and the parents gather. We sing our kids’ favorite songs, do a craft project and share the challenges that we’re facing.

Seeing that we aren’t alone is an effective antidote for the tendency to feel sorry for ourselves.

Here’s what I learned this time:

Groups are powerful – I’m an introverted extrovert. I get a rush from interacting with people yet spend much of my life alone. The release, and motivation, that I get from smart people is beneficial to me.

Each time I get excited in a group, I tell myself I need to talk less next time!

Parenting is a skill – don’t beat yourself up in the early years – it’s going to take years just to learn enough to see what you need to work on.

Often we focus on what’s not going right in our lives – sitting in the group I released that we are getting a lot right.

One of the parents works in psychology. She reminded us that parents who report the most satisfaction prioritize as Self – Marriage – Kids.

My goal isn’t perfection – my goal is to improve a bit on the previous generation.

Siblings Without Rivalry is a book that provides practical tips for parents. Also, helpful for dealing with single kids and schoolyard rivals.

Moving as a young family & coping with financial stress – kids most value time with their parents – when we think they are attached to material goods, we might be projecting our desires on them

MeltdownsIn the moment, the child is blind to the pointlessness of the trigger; to help them get back under control… repeat what you see:

“You are really frustrated with that car.”

“You are really mad because your sock won’t go to your knee.”

“You are sad because the ballon is missing.”

Later come back to “that thing” and see if they can learn to experience their pre-meltdown phase in an physical sense. Helping them feel the trigger rising in them can lead to awareness before they spin out of control.

Reframing the present, I remember that the worse the meltdown, the better the following week.

Reframing the present, I tell myself that she might need to blow off steam once a month.

Addressing my fear of disturbing the neighbors, I shared a story of taking my daughter outside…

Daddy, why are we going outside?

So when the police come they can see you are OK.

Somewhere – between over-protecting and under-protecting – lies the child’s true needs. Respect differences in approach.

I shared a story of watching my son fall down a flight of stairs. In my defense, there was carpet on the stairs. I support learning by letting painful things happen. My wife feels the kids’ pain – very tough for her to teach via negative experience. So I take my daughter away for weekend trips. Things go wrong, we deal with it.

Whining is debilitating – I always have earplugs available to take the edge off my daughter. Makes me a better man, and a safer driver!

Anxiety – giving my daughter a verbal list of what will happen lets her know the transitions in her day. Transitions trigger anxiety in my daughter. Knowing how things will unfold in advance gives her comfort. We give advance notice of change, but never before bedtime!

An example: this list is very comforting to my daughter. I repeat…

  • nap
  • snack
  • pick up (from school)
  • swim
  • CostCo
  • dinner
  • Then… she repeats, or changes the order a little.
  • Then… we agree what will happen in advance.
  • This smooths the transitional periods, which act as triggers for her meltdowns.

Bedtimes – try the exact same routine every night (previous article for you). Our mantra:

  • Brush teeth
  • Bathroom
  • Pajamas
  • Story
  • Milk
  • Countdown (she likes to count before I turn off the lights)

The world is split into her choices, and our choices. When it is time for her choice, we let her know. When we respect her desires, we let her know. We acknowledge when she’s sad due to having to follow our choice. I make a habit of offering her frequent (binary) options.

Our kids give us an opportunity to clear what we carry forward from our past.

Forgive the past, forgive ourselves and see the temporary nature of everything.

All this stuff works great on adults.