Chapter Two: Engaging Cooperation
Much like the authors of “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” mention, our family never lacks material when it comes to our three act-drama sweetly titled “Morning Time”. Not to be outdone by the sequel “Eat your damn lunch” and the third installment of “Dinner and Bed Time”. As a producer (parent) of this beautiful and dramatic life tale, we don’t get an intermission.
This is why this book is SO IMPORTANT.
As humans, we tend to make things more difficult on ourselves and others by not taking simple steps to honor both our feelings and those of the ones we are interacting with. In Chapter two we switch from concentrating on our children’s feelings and start to learn how we (parents) deal with our own negative feelings.
(Yikes. Let’s go back to dealing with other people. I don’t want to acknowledge that my reaction is part of the problem. ) In an effort to leave no stone unturned, I continued reading and navigating my way through the exercise laid out in the chapter.
In the first portion of the exercise, the reader is given the task as the child. The examples are of things parents would say to a child on any given day. The reader then writes how they feel like the child hearing these things. Example: “How many times do I have to tell you [insert the rest]…”
By the time I finished the page and looked over my answers I saw words like “inadequate, confused, incapable, rushed.” Was I projecting this on to my children before they even left for school?! I’m a monster. How as a parent am I setting them up for a successful day if before 8 am they feel like they aren’t going to be able to do anything right. That is a tough pill to swallow. The worst part, I was completely unaware. In my mind, I am keeping this sinking ship afloat. I am making sure everyone gets to where they need to be, on time and looking decent with a tummy full of food. I couldn’t be the problem, it doesn’t make sense.
Accountability is a bitch.
So this morning, as I started a new day and the time came for me to remind my children to brush their teeth or take their medicine or find their shoes for the 5th time. I found myself frustrated. Frustrated that I was doing everything. NO MORE. I was going to put this chapter to use.
Here were my options:
Describe. Describe what you see or describe the problem.
Say it with a word.
Talk about your feelings.
Write a note.
Option two and four, here we go.
“I feel frustrated when I have to keep repeating myself. It makes me feel like no one is listening. When breakfast is over, I need you to take your vitamins and brush teeth so that we can make it to school on time”
Apologies all around the breakfast table. My oldest kids, the twins, finished up breakfast, put dishes in the sink and marched upstairs to brush teeth.
WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?!
I noticed one of the twins hadn’t put on their shoes yet. This child has a busy mind and needs to be redirected a lot in the mornings. Instead of my normal “I’m not telling you again, put on your shoes! We can’t keep doing this EVERY morning. We are going to be late!’ rant, I simply said: “SHOES!”. Now did I have to repeat myself 3 times? Yes, I did. But simply saying “Shoes” 3 times was way more effective than a lecture. Option 3, you’re a sly one.
I am honestly excited to try these new techniques. I think the various options are wonderful and will suit each of my three children in different ways. I can see my oldest really responding to the notes. My middle, busy bodied child with the “word” and my youngest, well he just wants the information.
Instead of unhelpful and unhealthy responses where we blame, accuse or make threats, we can keep them engaged and work through our day together. As parents, it is important that we adapt too. The old school way of thinking “my way or the highway” isn’t effective. This does not mean that your child can walk all over you and dictate the way your home is run. What it does, is acknowledge that we are all human and we all have things that need to be done. We can teach our children useful ways to go through life and handle moments of stress or frustration or we can project our own stress and frustration on to them.
This doesn’t mean that our old ways of doing things won’t still happen. It is what has come naturally to us our entire lives. What is important though, is that we are able to redirect our focus (and apologize when applicable) to more helpful ways of doing things. That only happens with time and support.
The book club that @TheMommyJane and @TheMommyMJ have started is doing just that. Although we call it a book club, it is more of a support group. Every single person is going to take away something different when they read through these chapters. Some have children that are young, some are dealing with teenagers and some don’t even have children, but want to communicate differently with people they have in their lives. It is an empowering thing to have parents, especially women, rally together and support one another on this journey. (Let’s be honest, you could almost hear Spice Girls in the background last night with all that girl power!) But, is this book just for parents and women? No. If you interact with anyone and are honest with yourself, you will walk away from reading this with new concepts to apply.
I hope to see you in the IG Live next week!
@TheMommyJane with @TheMommyMJ – Book club is Wednesday 6 pm PST/9 pm EST /8 pm CST