My oldest just started pre-season baseball. He is a freshman in high school, so there’s a bit more pressure than when he was in middle school. And this year he could be cut from the team. Before heading off to a practice game this weekend he was in one of those teenager moods. And typical of my husband and I, we don’t react very well to the attitude. But afterward when we arrived at the baseball field, the look on my son’s face told me everything I needed to know. As he stepped up to home plate to bat, he took a deep breath, blew the air out shaking his shoulders and neck before lifting the bat and turning his head apprehensively to look at the pitcher. He was visibly nervous.
I realized in that moment that my son wasn’t being difficult earlier. He was feeling the pressure. Sometimes we parents get so wrapped up in judging our kids’ behavior that we forget to think about what they might be going thru that could be bringing out their bad side. We might respond, “Don’t give me that look! Don’t roll your eyes at me! Your attitude is totally inappropriate!” But if the bad attitude is the result of stress, we might be unintentionally supporting the claim that parents don’t understand. Because in that moment, we’re not trying understand at all.
Instead, I reminded myself to stop and think more before reacting. Why might my kid be acting like this. Is there something happening in his life right now that could be causing him to act out? Trust me. I know it’s hard to remember to take this approach when your kid, who you do EVERYTHING for, gives you a snotty look, but try, as best as you can, to just understand a little more first. Because when I saw my son’s expression as he stared at the pitcher winding up to throw a blinding fastball, I realized my son wasn’t being a jerk. He was just afraid of striking out. And when our kids feel that fear, they need our support. Not another lecture.