Have you ever had an annoying roommate or coworker? Difficult people have habits that just drive you nuts. They throw their socks on the floor, chew too loud, stand too close when they’re talking to you, or just say all the wrong things at the wrong times.
Everyone has had a time when they had to put up with a difficult person. It’s never easy. But what if the difficult person is your own child? You not only have to put up with this annoying human being, but you are expected to love, nurture, and raise him or her.
A friend of mine described this situation perfectly when she exclaimed about her daughter, “She’s frantically seeking my attention, and desperately needs me to be nice to her, but I just can’t be nice to her because she drives me crazy!”
Many children, often the best and brightest, can be difficult to live with. That’s just the nature of being a kid. Annoying habits, irrational behavior, lack of self-control are all symptoms of being not-yet-grown-up. And some children go through phases where they take this to the highest level, creating a home environment that can feel unbearable to the parent.
So what do you do if you are the parent of a difficult person? Here are four pointers to help get you through it:
- Keep things in perspective. Although it feels like this will never end, realize that your child will not be this way forever. At some point in his or her adult life, s/he will make the changes necessary to get along with others and live a functional life. Your child with not be like this forever.
- Take the time to appreciate the positive. You know your child has some lovable qualities. The daily grind makes it hard to remember what you love about your child. Take the time to make a list of traits you love and appreciate in your child. Write down the victories s/he has each day. Did s/he share something with a sibling? Did s/he work hard on a project? Write down every small accomplishment. The more you notice your child’s positive side, the more s/he will show it to you.
- Keep tabs of your emotional temperature. Adults create an unhealthy balance of power when they allow their emotions to be controlled by the child. If you find yourself getting too emotional in a showdown with your difficult child, it’s time to disconnect. Unplug yourself from the situation. You might need to leave the room, or put yourself in time-out, but it’s important that you disconnect. Read a book, take a break with a cup of coffee or listen to some music. Don’t let the difficult child dictate your emotional state.
- Maintain a healthy mental disconnect. That means you are emotionally unplugged from your difficult child at all times. A healthy disconnect allows the parent to provide love, attention, discipline, and even consequences, all without actual emotional involvement. Remember that your difficult child is not you, or even a part of you. Keeping up a healthy disconnect ensures that you will have the stamina to deal with his/her ongoing challenges. A healthy disconnect allows you to enjoy the positive about your child, and not get overwhelmed by the negative.
By Chaya Glatt