Life would be so simple if, when you had children, someone handed you a guidebook that held all the answers to the millions of questions that float through your head on any given day. In decades past, women relied on other women, usually family members to get through the trying times. Today, there are many resources out there for new and seasoned parents alike. Still, no matter what your experience level — whether this is your firstborn or your third child — there will always be issues that require advice.
1. Thumb Sucking
You've heard that letting your child use a pacifier — or binky — for too long can affect the way their teeth grow in. You take it away, only to realize with abject horror, they're now sucking their thumb!
First, don't panic, it's not the end of the world. For many children, it's simply a coping method or a means of soothing. It's perfectly normal. However, if it continues for years or it's constant, there are many thumb sucking prevention methods you can try. Whether it's the old dish soap trick or a guard that literally prevents them from sucking, there are a variety of options at your disposal.
The age-old question is: should you spank your children or not? There are many arguments against hitting your children, but there are some who still believe that there are times when a swat on the behind is called for. However, there is a fine line between spanking and abuse. Simply put, it might be acceptable if your child is about to do something dangerous — such as touch a hot stove. Some condemn it even in this case, citing it could lead to issues down the road. The choice is ultimately yours as the parent.
3. Peer Pressure
As your children age, there's no doubt that you're going to face hard times, especially when hormones kick in. For some kids, puberty starts at a young age, even at 9 or 10. Others don't mature until they're into their teen years, but hormones still play a pivotal role in behavior changes.
However, beyond these typical changes, you'll also face the very real possibility that your child will, at one point or another, face peer pressure. It could be related to sex, drugs, or other negative behaviors. As a parent, you feel pretty powerless because you can't control these negative aspects of their childhood. However, you can be a good sounding board. Be open and honest with your children. Be a safe space for them to come to when they need to talk. You'll likely face backlash in the beginning, but over time an open line of communication will work in your favor.
4. Sibling Rivalry
If you have more than one child, be prepared for this very real issue to crop up. For some, it's a simple matter. They fight over the same toys, and then as they grow the same girl or boy, if they're close in age. For some households, though, particularly in those with three or more children, there's a chance that one of your children may feel left out. In turn, this could spark a serious case of sibling rivalry. If the constant fighting is ruining the mellow — or frenzied — vibe in your home, it may be time to step in.
The one thing you don't want to do is point blame, at least not out loud. It's perfectly acceptable to inwardly opine about the source of the issue, but pointing the finger will only make tensions worse. Intervene when appropriate, such as when arguments are escalating, or turning physical. Talk to both, or all, of the children involved and dole out punishments equally. This way, no child feels as though they're the scapegoat or the one who receives all of the negative attention. There is good news, though. Over time, kids usually grow out of this rivalry.
These are just a few of the issues you're going to encounter as a parent. Rest assured, that no matter how dire it feels, you're not alone. If it starts stressing you out, know that you can seek out communities of moms and dads who feel the same. You can even seek out professional counseling, if necessary. Just keep in mind that childhood is fleeting and so are these issues.