I have been finding myself saying quite frequently “yes William, I’ll be there in a minute”. e reason is that he is 2 ½ years old and frequently wants me to look at what he is doing, play with whatever he is playing with, wants me to read him a book, or just wants milky cuddles ~ all reasonable requests given his age and development!
I’m not concerned that I do not run the minute he calls me – which can be quite dicult when things need to be done (reasonable things in my mind like finishing the dishes, cooking, or cleaning!), as I think that he is at an age where he can wait a minute (or three!) for me.
However, what has got me thinking is when the coin is ipped: I need him to come to me and he says “I’ll be there in a minute”. And why wouldn’t he say that, I have been modelling this for a good few months already! I guess background is important here.
When I was a child and my parents called me, there was no “in a minute” (unless of course I wanted a sore bottom!) – the few times I or my siblings said it the response was something along the lines “get your butt here now” – and there was no time to dawdle! It was engrained in us that it was disrespectful and certainly not something to tempt! And I know that even now this is a trigger for me because if I hear children say “in a minute” I immediately look at the parent to see how they respond.
Why is it ok for a parent to say “I’ll be there in a minute” but not for a child?
I think the most helpful thing I have heard recently was by Ale Kohn. He said that rather than implement punishment or rewards for ‘defiance’ or ‘compliance’, you should guide their behaviour by considering ve points, the most important of the five steps for me at this point of time was number 3: Imagine how the situation looks to your child I think this one step has the inherent ability to create empathy and compassion in whatever situation you are in, helping you to be the gentle present parent you are seeking to be in each moment. For me, if I have asked William to do something whilst he is busy playing with his train set, rather than seeing my child as defiant, what I need to do is look at the situation from his perspective which would be something like this:
Choo Choo, through the mountains into tunnels, over the bridge goes the black engine. Oh, look the red caboose is still at the back. OK, we need to get around this track to unload our freight … Mum: “William, can you please come here so I can put your clothes on?” Clothes – they are not important – what is important is getting to the station on time to unload the freight, and besides, I have my special engineer clothes on … Choo Choo, around the corner … yes, red caboose is still at the back Mum: “William, please come here so I can put your clothes on” I’m not far from the station – I don’t even want to put clothes on, I’m not going anywhere, and besides, that shirt scratches my skin … Choo Choo, round the mountain …
At this point, if you did not look at it from the child’s perspective you would become quite frustrated at your child’s ‘disobedience’.
However, when looking at it from his point of view, clothes clearly are not that important, and certainly not as important as getting to the station to unload the freight! So maybe implementing the tactics from our previous issue (Stong-Willed Children) – by going down to the ground and play with the trains for a minute and bring him back into the world where clothes need to be put on! That response in fact addresses the other 4 aspects Alfie discussed which are:
1. Is your request valid? Parents may not actually question whether their request of their child is valid.
2. Put the Relationship first Conceding does not show weakness to your child – it shows that relationships can be more important than pride and that they are give and take.
4. Be authentic A child knows if you are upset, regardless of the words coming out of your mouth or how big the fake smile is! Children need you to be authentic as you are their greatest model. Showing your feelings is very important (unless that means yelling of course!).
5. Talk less and Listen More! This is very important to understand what your child is thinking and feeling about situations in order to guide them through.
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Enjoy the gift of Nurture!