Ever look at your dirty, smiling child's face and try to
clean it off, only to be rewarded with an ear-piercing wail?
Or perhaps you see your precious baby slumped over in the car seat, snoozing, her head lolling at an unnatural angle. You think, Aw. Poor thing. She must be so uncomfortable! You
want to fix it. In fact, as the mom (or dad), you are compelled to fix it. You
lift her head gently, trying to find the "tipping point" between
front and back and side to side. You think you've got it. Ahhhh. The head is balanced. Success!
Then the wake-up—and the SCREAM!
My point is, every day our children are fairly happy. It's just hard to
accept. So we embark on a quest to make their lives more pleasurable, more comfortable—quite simply, happier. We shift, we move, we change, we sanitize, we
anticipate their unspoken needs and respond instantly.
The best parenting advice I ever got was from a cousin who had TWO sets of
twins. Upon the birth of my first child she said, "Heed my words—never make a happy baby happier."
I didn't get it at first, but more than 10 years later, this has become my
For many parents (me included), it can be hard to accept that our help won't
make our children's lives just a little bit better. But believe me, it won't.
To illustrate my point, I've compiled a list of the 10 things you can do to
an otherwise content baby or toddler that will make them miserable. Just
try one. You'll see (and hear)!
1. Moving your sleeping child from the car seat into the house for a more comfortable
Abide by the 5-second rule (or stretch it out if need be) and give the precious object back.
2. Waking your child to change a wet diaper in the middle of the
3. Adding to a picture they're working on, just to make it
"prettier" or neater, or color in the lines. (Step away from
4. Paying for expensive seats to a live kids' show and insisting they watch
every last second of it.
5. Adding salt, cheese or ketchup to your child's food without asking
6. Not returning a baby's lovey, blankie, stuffed animal or toy after it falls on the ground. A little dirt never hurt anyone. Abide by the 5-second rule (or stretch it out if need be) and give the precious
object back. Quick. Before the screaming begins.