putting yourself in your child's shoes

Putting Yourself in Your Child’s Shoes

Hey mommies! Kids can drive us insane, especially when they are having temper tantrums, meltdowns, or just being little stinkers. I for one, sometimes look at my son and just think, “What the heck is your problem?!” This is often when I stop, take a step back, and put myself in his shoes.

Putting yourself in your child’s shoes can help you better understand how they are feeling and why they may be acting a certain way.

Let’s use riding in the car as an example. My son in particular, at 2 years old, does not like to be in the car for very long. Any longer than 30 minutes and he’s starting to get antsy and ask to get out. This can get really annoying and frustrating for me. I often have to listen to whining and yelling, “I want to get OUT!” for another 15-30 minutes to make it home. BUT, I try to keep calm and put myself in his shoes.

He’s totally trapped in a car seat. He’s strapped down tight (because that’s safe and how’s he’s supposed to be buckled) and he can hardly move. He can’t shift his weight off his bottom. He can’t lean forward to take pressure off his back or reach very far because essentially, he’s trapped!

Now, think about how you would feel in that situation. Yes, we’re buckled in our seat, but our seatbelt allows us to move and shift weight. If someone strapped me down in a car seat like he’s strapped in, I’m pretty sure I’d start to get antsy and want to move around after 30 minutes or so too. I’d probably start complaining that my butt hurt or back hurt, and I’d get a little crabby!

Another common situation is routine or schedule changes. Holidays, vacations, starting school, or just really busy days can be very tiring and overwhelming for kids.

We recently went on a vacation with our son. We tried the best to stick to his routine and get him naps when he typically had them, but at times he still got kind of cranky. Or he’d get tired earlier than we’d expect. At this point, I’d try to think about how I felt and put myself in his shoes.

We didn’t really do anything too physically tiring, but we were constantly on the go and doing things that were out of the ordinary for us. The days made me tired, and if I was tired, my 2 year old had to be pretty darn exhausted.

In addition to routine changes, we were all sleeping in a new strange environment and beds that weren’t our own. That’s hard for anyone! If my son got a little cranky or crabby, I really couldn’t be mad at him because he was dealing with a lot of change.

The next time your child is having a meltdown, temper tantrum, or just being a pain in the butt, take a second to put yourself in your child’s shoes and see if you can have a better understanding of why they may be acting acting the way they are.

If you can understand why they are acting a certain way, you can take steps to help them through it, or at least have some empathy and compassion for how they feel in a particular situation.

By: Emily Bettis, MOT/L

Emily Bettis, MOT/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and mother. She has been working with children birth-5 since 2008 and has been a mother since 2013. Emily is the founder and author HeyMommies.com