I was out with a friend today and of course the topic of our children came up and we all have our challenges and successes. The one thing that rang out for me today was how different our lives would be if we didn’t pay so much attention to what our kids are saying – I mean really paying attention. Don’t get me wrong I don’t always get it right on the first try but generally what looks to others like I am letting my children “get away” with things is really a case of paying attention or being fully attuned to what they are trying to express.
I know when my children are working through something and when they just honestly can not do it. To an outsider you might think that by not MAKING them doing I’m letting them win. They are the ones driving the situation and as one parent once said, “You’ll be in trouble one day”. Well, I wish they could be a fly on the wall when refusal to put on pants to go to a dinner function in fact had absolutely NOTHING to do with the pants. Did we make it to the function? No. What we did make was a priceless connection where my child was able to work through all of the feelings of fear, guilt and grief eventually coming to a place where they understand that these feelings will come up in life but just because they are there doesn’t mean that the outcome will be the same.
When I could not get my child down the stairs and into the car I could have yelled and screamed and forced the issue. How do you think that would have looked for us?
Instead as a teary-eyed attempt at putting on pants coupled with, “I’m ruining Easter” streamed out of his lips. I put the pants aside and said, “Your feelings are more important right now that anything else”.
Yes, I did let him have control – control over his emotions and control over trying to work through it. Imagine how different life will be for him going forward.
The next time your child is beside himself and struck with a behaviour that seems out of character or particularly difficult stop for a moment and ask yourself “is there more going on here?”. Chances are your child is just trying to communicate to you that they need help and it’s our job to listen.
If you’ve been in this situation and had a positive outcome or managed a behaviour in such a way that brought you closer to your child’s feelings I welcome you to share it with us. All of our journeys are important and all of them are a learning experience.