THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD
Now that school is underway, mom and dad find themselves, once again, settling into the parent/child dynamic. Weeks before parents and children settled into the preparation stage. Carts were filled with school clothes, school supplies and sports gear. To Do Lists included medical and dental appointments, haircuts and tryouts. The goal was simple: multitask until you drop them at school or the bus stop.
It would be wonderful to believe the hard part is over with, but it’s only the beginning. Huge adjustments happen the moment your child returns home from school. The summer routine flies out the window! Preparation for stage 2 is just as essential. Author, Shefali Tsabary, encourages us to look for the power of connection, not the power of correction. In her book, Out of Control, Why disciplining your child doesn’t work…and what will, she notes, “We need to connect with our children instead of imagining we constantly need to correct them. They want nothing more than to feel loved for who they truly are in their authentic self. Not being appreciated for who they are is the root of all negative behavior, psychological problems, and social dysfunction, including criminality.” Rather than rattling out one hundred questions when they pass through the door in the afternoon, she recommends learning to be in the present moment and observing your child’s overall demeanor, before directing the next 30 minutes of their life. Remember they have been following an adult’s direction for the last eight ours of their day.
Tsabary has an acronym she uses to navigate this area: W-I-N-N-E-R. The W stands for witness-taking time to observe your child’s demeanor; I stands for investigate-focusing on finding a connection with them rather than a barrage of questions; N stands for neutrality-leaving out our own emotional tendencies while we’re engaging with our child; the next N stands for negotiate-learning to stay away from the idiom, “my way or the highway;” the E stands for empathy-caring about, not fixing, your child’s stumbling blocks. Empathy shows an understanding and respect for where they find themselves in daily life and the belief they have the capacity to see themselves through any ordeal; the R stands for repeat, rehearse, resolve-there are only three possible solutions in a given situation: change it, accept it, or leave it. Useful tools in working through situations are repetition and rehearsal. Role-playing can be a beneficial tool in their sense of mastery.
In the end, both parents and kids want to find comfort and acceptance when they cross through the threshold of home. It’s the one place where a “meeting of the minds” is fostered in the love of family.
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday, August 28, 2016.