Have your kids ever made it hard for you to decide whether to give them a big hug or tear your hair out? You aren’t alone. In this video, YouTuber Katie Crank sings her own rendition of Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All” with all four of her boys doing what little boys do in the background. In her first words she sings, “It’s amazing how you can destroy everything. Without saying a word, you can make things unclean.”
Every mom who listens to those words knows the truth in them. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear people jokingly call their kids little monsters. So how do you love them in the moment when you would simply prefer to bang your head against the wall or hide in the shower to get away?
Let them be little
At one point in her song, Crank croons, “The smile on your face lets me know that you’re guilty. There’s a look in your eye saying you need my mercy. The mess that you made is just normal for four little boys.” The first step is understanding that your children’s behavior is mostly normal.
Harvey Karp, a pediatrician and author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, says that toddlers act sort of like cavemen because that’s simply where they are developmentally. "They spit and scratch when they are angry," he says. "They pee in the living room. They pick their nose. They put food in their hair. They'll suddenly shriek out of nowhere, even in a crowded place."
As they grow older, they begin to develop those social cues that we have as adults. And over time, the craziness becomes nothing more than one of many memories you will end up treasuring.
Additionally, as Crank put it, it’s important to recognize that your kids need your mercy. Even though it seems that they need to be reminded a million times to do something (or not to), the best way for them to learn is from a parent who loves them and is able to show them that love despite all the mistakes.
If you are constantly scolding your children, part of their social development may include avoiding developing a deeper relationship with you. When they are older, it then becomes more difficult to create what wasn’t there when they were more impressionable.
Remember that they love you
At the very end of the song, with her (now shirtless) boys drumming on their bellies and wrestling, Crank finished with, “You say it best when you say I love you mom.” This is by far the most important thing to remember through all of it. It’s likely that your little ones aren’t doing any of the things they do to intentionally drive you up the wall. They love you and think the world of you.
And remember, you'll have plenty of years to drive them crazy, too. So the next time your kids are out of control, take a deep breath and remember that love and understanding are the keys to good parenting—all other things are just appendages. And if you can’t, watch this video a few times to soften you up.