Today I will share one of my most embarrassing moments as a parent. Why? Because this is how we grow. I hope you enjoy.
At 3 years of age my son took off ahead down the YMCA hallway. I was about 10 yards behind him when I see him stop and quickly without hesitation pull the shiny red fire alarm handle on the wall. The words "Alex, No!" didn't even have time to leave my mouth. And just like that the loud fire alarm was ringing throughout the entire YMCA. Alex began to cry immediately. I scooped him up and went to the front desk to inform them it was a false alarm. I looked over and could see elderly people exiting the pool as quickly as possible. I was mortified and felt terrible. How could my son do such a thing? Should I be worried about an Impulse Control Disorder, ADHD, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
As a therapist who has years of experience working with children, I didn't know what to do with my own son. Due to my own uncertainty I turned to a trusted colleague who is a child psychiatrist. I shared the scenario with him and he said "Did you ever tell him not to pull the fire alarm?". I just about bursted into laughter. "Ahh no, I have never told him not to pull a fire alarm unless there was a fire. The thought never crossed my mind." Sadly, I never took the time to go over this with him.
One significant lesson I have learned about children as I have my own and from working with so many incredible children throughout the years is kids teach us how to be parents. Even babies communicate their needs. This blog is apart of "mindful parenting" which I define as the practice of being in the present moment with our children. Being present with our children allows us the opportunity to see their needs, their struggles, their amazing developmental shifts, and to help teach them life lessons like "you only pull a fire alarm if there is a fire".
So many families (including my own) have overbooked schedules and it's parenting on-the-go. I encourage each parent to take time to "be present" with their children to experience one of the most powerful relationships that exist. And if you cannot slow the schedule right now, be present and engaged with your children as you are doing your activities.
And as I final note, Alex does not have ODD, ADHD, or Impulse Control DO=) He is; however, a pretty incredible kid.