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Why My 6 Year Old is Like Your 6 Month Old

It all started with a loud yelling from outside, “It’s not faaaaair!”. I was folding laundry in my kids’ room when I heard my rambunctious, opinionated, and deliciously energetic 6 yr old screaming. I rolled my eyes and decided I’d go see what the problem was. I came outside to find him sitting on his bicycle with a contorted look on his face, showing me he was angry and feeling defiant. “What’s the matter?” I asked him. “It’s not faaaaaair!” He yelled again. And so the saga began…

After calming him down, I was able to figure out what exactly wasn’t fair. Thank goodness my kids are active and healthy and my 6 yr old loves riding his bicycle. What he doesn’t love, however is wearing his helmet. My son was complaining that it made him sweaty, bothered his ability to see the street and where he was riding, and to top it off he didn’t like that it was blue. My initial response to his childish reasoning was to tell him to suck it up and wear the helmet, for goodness sake! A million responses ran through my mind: “It’s dangerous not to…you can get REALLY hurt, you ride your bike like a maniac, cars come speeding down our dead-end street even though you’re very careful, etc, etc, etc.” But before opening my mouth, it occurred to me that his outburst was very possibly coming from a place other than physical discomfort. I brought him inside, gave him a cold glass of juice (because he was SOOO sweaty from his helmet), and tried talking to him. After he calmed down and I could tell he wasn’t trying to pick a fight with me I asked him, “Are there any other reasons you don’t want to wear your helmet?” He thought about it for a few minutes and then told me very simply, “Other boys don’t wear one, so I feel funny when I do.” Aha! I knew there was a deeper reason behind his discomfort. Aside from the fact that for some reason Israeli kids don’t’ wear helmets even though they speed down hills in the middle of a street at 30 mph, my son felt like a social outcast.

Our kids cry out to us because they need something. Yes, sometimes it’s as silly as a shoe that needs retying, but it’s still an emotional need. When your baby cries, before attempting to put a band-aid on the problem and try to feed him, put him to sleep, rock him, etc, try thinking about why he’s crying. It will save you a lot of emotional energy and help you get the root of the problem much quicker.

A lot of mothers I work with contact me feeling frustrated. Their babies cry all night, are irritable during the day, and seem overall not at ease. “Don’t worry!” I want to scream…”it’s not your fault! Your baby isn’t bad!” We just have to get to the source of the problem to help ensure your baby can be well-rested and taken care of :).

So although other kids don’t wear helmets, I’m still a stickler for them. We’re now on a campaign to get all the kids on the block to be cool like my son and wear a helmet. All that matters to me though, is that he feels I’ve validated his feelings and his needs are taken care of.

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