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Is there truth to "Little Kids, little problems; big kids, big problems"?

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#1 Kylie Orr

Posted 20 October 2016 - 09:46 AM

Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems. Have you heard this phrase before?

It made my blood boil when someone with older children would suggest the problems I was having with my little kids were ... well, little.

This is nothing! Wait until they’re teenagers! was the catch cry of the more experienced parent.

The comments were not intentionally condescending. Like so many remarks made, they were merely observations from parents who had been there and had now moved onto the next phase. Problem was, those off the cuff remarks were as helpful as a solar-powered torch.

Is it true that little kids only bring us little problems? Does that mean our stress levels are not justified when we have, say, a baby who doesn’t sleep well compared to an anxious teen?

Jackie Hall is a professional counsellor, mother and founder of the Parental Stress Centre of Australia. She says, “The first thing we need to understand is that it’s never the events that cause stress, it’s how we perceive that event and what we perceive it to mean about ourselves [and] our life.”

Jackie says it is more an issue of control and how we manage when things are out of our power. “When it comes to our children and how their lives unfold, parents often adopt a belief that we ‘should’ be able to control the outcome of their child’s behaviour. We create pictures of how they ‘should’ behave based on our expectations and how their lives ‘should’ be for it to be ‘right’.”

In theory, we can control more in the lives of a baby than we can in a teenager but that doesn’t mean raising babies and young children isn’t intense. Their feed and sleep regimes take up our entire day. Every hour is counted because we are watching for tired signs or hunger bursts and contemplating the implications if we miss a feed or sleep.

There are phases of a million different varieties that fill our heads with worry – clinginess, health issues, safety, developmental milestones, food refusal, sleep resistance, biting, crying, walking, climbing, toileting, speech …

When children reach preschool age we look at broader issues of social aptitudes and learning challenges. They are practicing playing alongside - and with - other children which brings new trials and stresses. Embracing rules and authority is not always easy, this often comes out in testing boundaries by talking back and demonstrating defiance through tantrums.

Primary school brings new worries: navigating friendships, highlighting learning difficulties and adjustment issues. There’s managing disappointment and pressure, building resilience and fostering education. Seven years of possible stresses as they adapt to constant change.

Tweens, teens and beyond, are ages when their worlds become murkier. The problems can be anything from bullying, anxiety and depression, to social and study pressures. Add self-esteem, sexuality and body image obstacles, as well as managing the digital age of social media and things feel like they are ramping up. Once they get a boyfriend or girlfriend, a new level of stress can leave us lying awake at night.

How can we possibly control these diverse facets through different ages?

Short answer is, we can’t.

Jackie adds, “Life is going to have its ups and downs. So is parenting. We need to remember that our children are going to have challenges too, just like anyone else and that’s not due to the failings of the parents, but due to events that have transpired that led to your child doing what they do.”

It would be easy to say that stressing over a baby’s sleep cycle in no way compares to a depressed teen who is self-harming. But to me, that is only relevant to the person living it. My daily reality and the next parents’ are two entirely different experiences. How my family copes with sleeplessness, behaviour issues, health challenges or self-esteem worries will be unlike yours because of the lives we’ve led and the challenges we’ve faced.

Jackie believes the best thing we can do for our kids is accept there is not one ‘right’ path and to view challenging situations as learning platforms. If we can do this through the early stages of parenting, then our kids will learn “not to panic when life presents us with something unwanted, but to embrace it and use it to enhance our lives, not define it.”

What is certainly true is that parental worry is not exclusive to one age group; problems don’t discriminate, they just change with age.

If that reassurance doesn’t help you, then remember stressed spelled backwards is desserts. And seeing as stress burns calories, sounds like I’ve got all bases covered.

Do you think little kids = little problems and therefore big kids = big problems?


Edited by Kylie Orr, 20 October 2016 - 09:48 AM.

#2 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 20 October 2016 - 09:50 AM

little kids = some problems while big kids = other problems.

As children grow, their needs, wants, preferences and environments change.  What is an issue for a 2 year is going to be different to the issues for a 7 year old which is going to be different to the issues faced by a 15 year old.

I thought that was pretty self-evident.  

I thought that was pretty self-evident.

#3 Lallalla

Posted 20 October 2016 - 10:44 AM

I hate the "just you wait" comments. It starts so early too, "just you wait till the 4 month sleep regression", "just you wait until they're crawling/walking/in the terrible two's/ a threenager/ a tween/ a teenager"

Not helpful people. I also think a lot of people forget the relentlessness of a newborn.

#4 IkeaAddict

Posted 20 October 2016 - 11:04 AM

View PostLallalla, on 20 October 2016 - 10:44 AM, said:

I hate the "just you wait" comments. It starts so early too, "just you wait till the 4 month sleep regression", "just you wait until they're crawling/walking/in the terrible two's/ a threenager/ a tween/ a teenager"

Not helpful people. I also think a lot of people forget the relentlessness of a newborn.

I would take my sons intense tantrums when he was 2-3 year old over newborn relentlessness any day. I got annoyed when I took my son to his first school birthday party for a kid who was turning 7. Was warned that boys that age are feral, that it would be noisy and unbearable and I'd need alcohol after. the party was outdoors, the kids were well behaved, not feral, no alcohol needed

Its the competitive nature of parenting....whinge to someone about something your kid is doing and someone has to one-up you. Making their problem to be infinitely harder.

Parenting kids of all ages is hard. Each age has its challenges. No one age is easier or harder than another just different

#5 Fizzwizz

Posted 20 October 2016 - 11:27 AM

Hi I can relate to this as I have a toddler teenager and pre teen. With our 15 year old daughter her developmental issues she is dealing with are broad - identity, sexuality, friends, self esteem, mental health, career interests, and are somewhat now out of our control - she is her own person. All this is developmentally appropriate and normal. The stress is different from the relentless demands of a baby or a toddler - problems aren't as easily "solvable" now and are more complex than making sure she has enough food, sleep and a routine which are our number one concerns for a baby for example.

I think the bottom line is that it's stressful being a parent no matter how old your children are. The stress just changes over time.

#6 Kylie Orr

Posted 20 October 2016 - 12:31 PM

View PostYodaTheWrinkledOne, on 20 October 2016 - 09:50 AM, said:

I thought that was pretty self-evident.

It should be self-evident but it still comes up in conversation time and time again, doesn't it? So, frustrating :annoyed:

I think you might be right, IkeaAddict. The one upmanship spills through all areas of parenting.

And as you've all said, the stresses are different for different age groups but no more or no less. As FizzWizz said, older aged kids have problems that are trickier to solve, but that doesn't make the issues we are having with newborns or toddlers any less stressful.

Appreciate your input!

Too early for wine?

#7 seayork2002

Posted 20 October 2016 - 01:14 PM

I think it was my mum who told me when I was pregnant 'all stages have good and bad points' and one of my health visitors who did my home visits when my son was little on me asking her questions such as on TT 'you don't see many 18 year olds still wearing nappies' meaning they get it sometime!

So thanks to all the good solid and yes some would say old fashioned advice I just listened to it all picked it all that works and remain fully aware people will always have opinions/advice and 99% of the time don't mean harm so I just let it all wash over me.

#8 No Drama Please

Posted 20 October 2016 - 01:28 PM

In a million years I wouldn't tell an exhausted person with a screaming baby/toddler "just wait till they get older, then you'll see".

In fact if I see someone with a screaming baby in a pram and a petrified look I go out of my way to tell them how much easier it is when they get older!

Children get older and change but as you get more used to being a parent I think it gets easier as well. It's not always the case but it's the hope that there's a light at the end on the tunnel thats all that keeps you going sometimes.

Taking pot shots at vulnerable new parents to give yourself a brief feeling of smug self satisfaction at their expense is just unhelpful and unnecessary.

#9 seayork2002

Posted 20 October 2016 - 01:33 PM

View PostConspiracy Theory, on 20 October 2016 - 01:28 PM, said:

In a million years I wouldn't tell an exhausted person with a screaming baby/toddler "just wait till they get older, then you'll see".

In fact if I see someone with a screaming baby in a pram and a petrified look I go out of my way to tell them how much easier it is when they get older!

Children get older and change but as you get more used to being a parent I think it gets easier as well. It's not always the case but it's the hope that there's a light at the end on the tunnel thats all that keeps you going sometimes.

Taking pot shots at vulnerable new parents to give yourself a brief feeling of smug self satisfaction at their expense is just unhelpful and unnecessary.

When we were out and about and my son was having one his his mega melt downs and some random person spoke to me and things like 'wait till they are teenagers' etc. I just took it in the same way I take 'do you think it will rain?' by some random at a bus stop - I did not try and seek some big conspiracy behind what they said I just took it as a simple plain comment.

#10 jayskette

Posted 20 October 2016 - 01:45 PM

yes. a few adult family members with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses so they do behave like big kids and plus their adult size means its so hard to confront them when violent. at least little kids u can pick them up and smack them or something.

#11 Bam1

Posted 20 October 2016 - 01:49 PM

Random people make random comments all the time which depending on what mood we are in, we will either take it in the light heartened manner it was intended, or we may take it to heart and get upset.   It's probably easier and makes for a less boring community if you learn how to not let off the cuff comments make your blood boil than to get  everyone else to ensure that they only ever say "safe" comments.

#12 *Jasmine*

Posted 20 October 2016 - 02:10 PM

I find primary school age easiest so far. Having a newborn for me, especially while breastfeeding, was amazing but at the same time all encompassing. Little sleep, minimal time to do things I enjoy other than relating to a baby.

Toddler years well let's just say I don't know how I didn't die of cardiac arrest with my little tornado human whose favourite thing in the world was risk-taking.

I love, love, love the primary age.

But I dread teens as well, stressing about kids speeding in cars, worrying about peers and drugs and alcohol, mental health, etc.

I think it is difficult because we love them so much, they take up so much of our heart and our thought capacity.

Edited by *Jasmine*, 20 October 2016 - 02:11 PM.

#13 Lallalla

Posted 20 October 2016 - 06:07 PM

I wouldn't say it makes my blood boil, it just grates. Particularly when I am sleep deprived, which is always right now with 3 very small children. All girls too, which seems to increase the "just wait until they're teenagers" comments. Though as another recent thread was discussing people have plenty to say about all boys too.

#14 Soontobegran

Posted 10 November 2016 - 04:06 PM

People have lots to say and I reckon we have been or will be guilty of it at some stage in our lives.

I don't think people forget how relentless babies are but the relentlessness just transfers as the child gets older......they are just different problems, often no better or no worse but very real at the time you are experiencing them.

Some parents have children with special needs, I'd not have wanted to swap my problems with theirs ever.

I have adult children.....it is still relentless :(


Posted 10 November 2016 - 05:00 PM

Having a 16year old and and 8 year old, teenager going through 14 & 15 age bracket was the worse and mine is quite a good one.  I think what makes it harder is you have a teen who is no longer and child and not yet an adult filled with hormones that can make them do, say and behave sometimes a little crazy, even the best teenager.

Its just different hard at different times.  For me those couple of years were the worst as far as parenting has gone, the yelling, screaming, fighting, they go through the stage if something is quite obviously black they will argue and argue its white.  I put a lot down to the hormone ride they are on at that stage.  They are starting to exercise their freedom of thought and body.  As I said mine was fairly good as we didn't have school issues, boyfriend issues ect.  Talking with mums of girls that age and some confided that for their first time in their lives they had seen GP's for mental health issues, which I can totally get if you have a real feral teen that is pushing everyone and every place they go.  I only have a teen girl so not sure if boys are like that.

For me I think it was the hardest as there was nothing rewarding about it.  When the kids are little they do things that no matter how sh*tty your day is or sleep deprived,  just makes you smile, they do something funny or cute, give you a hug and you go, that makes the hard work worth it.  Teen, going through that bad patch, there is no reward, no nice warm fuzzy moments.

By 15.5years it all just stopped as abruptly as it started.  
Thankfully, I was getting to the stage that I was happy to travel for work to get away from her.  Now its all good, she wants to hang out toghter, go for dinner, we can sit down and have a conversation and agree to disagree with no shouting.

I think once you have been through bring your kids up, I'm sure for different kids you would say different times was the hardest for different kids depending the experiences along the way.

Edited by LUV-MY-KIDS, 10 November 2016 - 05:08 PM.

#16 shanta

Posted 10 November 2016 - 05:54 PM

My understanding of the saying is that if you don't nip problem behaviour in the bud, it gets harder and harder to deal with it as the child grows.

Edited by shanta, 10 November 2016 - 06:17 PM.

#17 PhillipaCrawford

Posted 10 November 2016 - 07:12 PM

For me it's true - and that is not to negate the issues we faced when my kids were smaller, some were doozies.

- when your mid 20's DS moves overseas and then comes back after 2 years and then is jobless for 9 months despite stellar ATAR and double degree and 2 years working internationally......
- when mega wonderful DD is ripping the skin from her cuticles and binge eating and dropping out of uni...
- when they ring at 3 am to say they've been in a car accident....
- when DS is offered a job and asks for time to think about it because he prefers another one, only then he talks to friends and relations and decides he really preferred the one that offered so you spend a sleepless weekend terrified they will revoke the offer ( they didn't   :) ).....

Anyway for all the grief I had battling feeds, sleep, bullying, school work etc ultimately I was in control and could fix things. Or if not at least they were under my B. roof and I knew where they were!
Now I have to sit back and let them do it.
And it kills me.

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