“Our anger and frustration comes from the discrepancy between what our children SHOULD be doing and what they ARE doing. Letting go of “should” helps us find our compassion.”  – Sarah Rosensweet

“They should listen to me when I tell them it’s time to leave the park!” 

“They should hang up their coats and backpacks when we come in the door!”

“They should know by this age that hitting is not okay!”

It is reasonable to expect that your child doesn’t run away when it’s time to head home. It is reasonable to expect that they can hang their coats and backpacks on the hook when they take them off. (After all, it’s right there!) And it’s reasonable to expect that your 4 YO, who can tell you in their calm moments that hitting isn’t nice, won’t hit you. 

So yes, they “should” do these things!

When we have a gap between the expectations we have for our child and the reality of what they are doing, it can be extremely frustrating! It’s often when we lose patience. 

I find it helpful to remember that if our children COULD do better, they would do better. 

They don’t want to leave the really fun park to go home for dinner and bed, and when you’re little it’s hard to make yourself do things you don’t want to do. They don’t care if their backpack is on the hook or not, they’re just so happy to be out of school for the day! And they do know better than to hit. It’s just that those feelings are so overwhelming and impulse control is non-existent in an angry 4 year old. 

The first step? Let go of the SHOULDS so that you can find your compassion and your patience to effectively deal with whatever is happening in the moment. If we are dysregualted, it’s impossible to use the tools we have in our toolkits to playfully corral our children and get them home, to direct them back to the mudroom, or to help them with the big feelings that are causing the aggression. 

Let go of the SHOULD, try to see it from their perspective, and it’s so much easier to stay patient.

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