You can do this. Life will go on. Life will be wonderful
It’s hard to imagine even wanting to have another baby after you’ve held one all day and been awakened four or more times at night. The journey from having negative feelings to rewarding and uplifting ones is a long uphill climb, but the payoff will come. Your most valuable survival tip is to practice attachment parenting. Here are some great survival tips that have been discovered in parenting high need children.
1. CONSIDER YOURSELF
Mothers actually need mothering, too. All the giving and not getting will wear thin. New mothers easily recognize themselves in the scenario: “My baby needs me so much that I don’t even have time to take a shower.” It’s very natural to want to put baby’s needs first all the time, yet that doesn’t mean you always put your needs last all the time.
2. Allow Baby Some Frustration
In your desirel to be a very positive parent, it’s very tempting to keep giving until you finally give out. During the early months especially, babies need a “yes-mother.” Baby wants to nurse, you do it. Baby wants to be held, you do it. Being unconditionally responsive to the baby is part of the parent-infant contract. But, such unconditional giving in the later months of infant care can develop into the “martyr mothering” and can actually interfere with your child’s ability to begin developing a sense of self and self-competence. Worst of all, when done through gritted and angry teeth (because you know deep down your constant giving is no longer appropriate for baby’s age) , responsive parenting finally deteriorates into resentful and angry parenting. Once you know your limits, you will be more motivated to find ways to get your baby to behave better, and your baby will soon get the message that life goes much more smoothly with a mom who is happy and content.
3. Don’t Compare
It’s easy to label your child “bad” when he’s the only one in the playgroup climbing up on the kitchen counter while all the others sit politely and quietly around the table having their snacks. It’s easy to think that you’re doing something very wrong when your baby is the only one in the group who doesn’t sleep through the night. New parents get their “norms” from the general parenting styles and child behavior of whatever social group they’re in. We live in a society today in which being different equates with being wrong. This is not only very faulty reasoning, but it will also whittle away at whatever confidence you have left and it will undermine your perception of the uniqueness and value of your own child. Comparing your parenting with others will drive you completely nuts. You’ll reinforce to yourself that negative nagging feeling: that your child’s bad behavior is somehow all your fault.
4. Get Out
Home to a child is where mother is. The open space of a park or playground can release a difficult acting child and it will relax a tense parent.
5. Get Help
The earlier you realize that in parenting a high need child you will need outside help, the better you will survive. Choose your allies carefully. Unless they have a high need child, they may have difficulty empathizing with you. Surround yourself with like-minded parents. Join a high need support group, or start your own.
6. Start a Support Group
When your misery needs more company, form a “high needs child” support group. Surrounding yourself around with other parents who share your situation and your point of view helps you see the specialness of your own child. You will also get some very valuable tips from more experienced parents. Other parents in your support group will be willing to listen to your story over and over and without any judgment. You don’t have to fear that you are making mistakes in front of them because the rest of the group members are also struggling to find their way to managing a high need child.
7. Plan Ahead
Learn to anticipate your child’s needs in advance, and avoid, as much as is possible the situations that set you up for conflicts and fighting. If your baby is a late afternoon fussy baby, stay clear of supermarkets during those trying hours. After the first few months, you will know at which times of the day that a child’s moods are easier to manage, and you can then structure your day accordingly. Mornings are usually great for high need babies and their somewhat rested parents. That may be your quality time. Toward the end of the day is usually comfort time that is needed, the four to eight P.M. hours when babies are usually the least manageable. Try to avoid distressing activities during those hours and concentrate just on meeting your baby’s needs.
8. Get Behind The Eyes Of Your Child
Throughout your parenting lifetime, there will be thousands of situations that test your composure and frustration. Your toddler throwns a fit at playgroup when you announce it’s time to go. Your child spills juice all over his shirt when you’re already late for an appointment. The first thought that flashes through your mind is likely to be “How awful for me…” But please beware, these initial adult-centered thoughts can trigger a whole chain of events that only make things much worse.
9. Make Sleep A Priority
You need to sleep when your baby sleeps. And nap when your baby naps. It’s tempting to “get things done” while your baby’s napping. But resist that temptation and take a nap yourself. To keep your sanity in parenting a high need child, you must make sleep and rest a top priority.
10. Be Positive
Your early feelings about having a high need child may be so full of many negatives (“doesn’t sleep,” “won’t settle,” “not cuddly,” “unpredictable,” “stubborn”) that you fail to see the beauty beneath the weeds. The payoff in parenting a high need child is that beneath every apparent “negative” trait there lies a positive one. Once you pick the weeds, you see the flower blossom, sometimes so wonderful and beautiful that you forget those pile of awful weeds.
As you grow in knowing and learning your child, you will find yourself becoming increasingly more and more confident about the value of your own personal intuition; yet this will be a very slow process, based on hundreds of moment-by-moment, trial-and-error decisions. Once you get in sync with your child, you will be able to stop relying on outside advice and trust totally in your self.