Today as we arrived in St. Louis my Maddie was having a hard time and I, being a gem of a mom, was annoyed. After all, shouldn’t she be excited to see our new house after two days of driving? It’s not like we moved her away from everything and everyone she’s ever known or anything. Does she really have to scream and whine incessantly? Can’t she just be calm and excited? …. And then I had a gut check.
Parents, we all need “in my child’s shoes” gut checks at times. It may not be as obvious as my situation today BUT next time you child has a hard time in the grocery store check out, going to sleep, getting up, headed off to school, take a moment to think about the world from a child’s perspective.
We, as adults, have both more experiences and more cognitive capacity to work through the what if’s and what will happen next’s of this world. Our role as parents isn’t just to get our children through each step by pushing and prying, but to gently teach and guide as we go. How do we do that? Three steps (cue special agent OSO music).
1. Pause and empathatically reflect (what might my child be feeling/experiencing).
2. Listen carefully to your child’s words and actions (maddie was saying where is my bed and rubbing her eyes…something I didn’t notice until I stopped being about me)
3. Answer reflectively (Sweetie, I hear that you are tired and worried about finding a bed. Your Dora bed will be in this room tomorrow. Today we are going to a hotel to sleep. We will leave in ten minutes, do you want to sit in my lap until then?
I truly believe that many times being more about our children actually allows us to be more presently open to our own needs and experiences. We allow ourselves the experience of slowing down and reflecting rather than just mindlessly pushing through. Try it once in the next few days and let me know how it goes (for you and your child).
The end for tonight. More to come this week I am sure!
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