Cyborg with a Tiara
- Feb 1, 2001
- Basic Beliefs
My daughter (6) is driving us nuts at school. Her behavior is all over the place. We have a run of decent days... or a run of bad days... or a run of mostly good days with a but. Go to pick her up and the teacher tells us that our daughter rescued a baby from a burning car in the morning, but then tried to collaborate with ISIS in the afternoon during music class. This kid is the queen of drama queens.
Something we often forget (and in contrast to Toni’s comments where she was asked a lot and didn’t know the answer, which is also true and perhaps related to this but worth asking nevertheless) is to ask the child what they were thinking. When my son got into all kinds of pickles, I learned to stop asking “why did you disrupt them, or, why did you break that thing, or why did you almost hurt so and so” and instead ask
- what were you doing?
- what were you thinking while you were doing that?
- what did it feel like to you?
- What did you expect to happen?
The answers were profoundly useful. And gave a much better communication between us as to what was actually wrong instead of my assumption of what was wrong. And SOOO much more productive to correcting his behavior instrad of saying, “you can’t hurt people,” with him just thinking (accurately when it comes right down to it,) “I wasn’t” and ignoring the correction. Instead I could say, “you have to think through whether that action could end up breaking/hurting/disrupting because if it ends up doing that, even if you didn’t mean it, you will be responsible.” Now he knows to think things through which is reasonable, instead of “not being bad” whih is perplexing and opaque to him. He never actually wanted to break anything or hurt anyone, so once he gained an ear from an adult on what to do to avoid it (in 4-year old terms) he was happy to oblige.
Not perfect, of course, while he did get significantly better at not causing harm, there were still those talks even up through middle school that included, “It doesn’t actually matter how curious you were about what the older boy’s sweat might taste like, it was not acceptable to walk up an lick his arm from wrist to bicep, and he is understandably a little freaked out by the experience. Instead you need to ask an adult and we can arrange for a way for you to taste sweat. (Ew!)”
Anyway, I learned so very much by pausing and asking with no leading questions. Things I never expected were on his mind. And he learned that someone cared about his point of view and, to him, “the truth”. It gave me a lot of insight that was necessary to find a solution.