Who is the boss? This is the question I ask myself whenever my strong opinionated and stubborn child uses the NO word. My logic and explanations fall on deaf ears , when she is clear and holds her ground.
I guess other mothers can resonate from the space I am coming from. What are common responses to that kind of behavior? We shut out and withhold response or we lash out for their outrageous defiant attitude...
These are common phrases I too am guilty of using as a mother who is tied to her own constraints..
You don’t show me that face. You come here . You do it now. I will take your perks away...No TV and mobile....How will you learn to be responsible if you are already six?
What is the response of my child? She nonchalantly murmurs "you do what you want" As she has a back up plan...She on the sly goes to my spouse and justifies her stand on why she deserves the mobile and rattles on her list of things she has done differently that day like waking up early and helping my mother in the kitchen. My spouse pats her back. Then she sheepishly asks whether she can play on the mobile. He obliges. And then the unexpected turn happens . She gives the mobile to me on time.
I don't know what to do whether I should praise her or stand neutral and firm and remind her of that haughty behavior I disapprove of.
Now you mothers can guess what I did. I shook her hand and put her on my lap.....She got what she wanted...
Yup I am a counsellor and the mother's pride came in between.
She knows that , if she twists facts here and there the people are unaware and she also knows that if she is stubborn with one parent, she can get away with the obligatory one. But who made her go a few steps behind and guard her integrity in the first place?
She gets cues from myself, her brother, family members, peers and friends. She is six and needs to make her place in this gigantic family. Her reasoning capacity is limited. She has got her preference from the time she was born means she was right all along. She thinks we are pointing fingers at her when she is doing something wrong. She is bothered about her image and presence in the family.Her big heart needs the mending. That is her drive for her passion and determination.
I decided not to put on the thinking hat....Go the feelings way....
These are the questions I asked
Me: What happened when I told you to help me?
She said I was hungry and I did not give bread...
I apologised for that
Me: next time I will offer her a choice....whether she wants to clean or arrange?
How does that sound?
She said Ok but why should I clean....You do all that na....
I spoke about how responsible she is and I trust that she will not make a mess of the chore.
She smiled and said so you want me to join you...Ok
Me: like a team...50 /50
She ran away after that....
So It was just that....
Image matters for the child big or small. And what you put in to shape the image lies in our hands...It is a big responsible and conscious job as a parent.. The first stage is to note the behaviour. It is better to understand space the child is coming from. He/she faces inner conflict.
" Am I self righteous to follow what mama and papa want me to do or Can I defy and see what they say? "
It is necessary to understand fear and anxiety associated with transgressed behavior. The social consequences are high. Children get mixed with the after effects feelings. They feel guilty, sadness and regret. If they are scorned and reprimanded openly, they take their pain inwards. They become self critical and have self blaming thoughts. For children to openly come out, make a confession, apologise and make things right, they should be made to feel right. That is where we as parents come in picture.
I have mentioned in my previous blogs how important is validating and acknowledging the feelings.
To dos for parents
- Give colours to identify the feelings for children.
- Avoid necessary probing questions which will further exaggerate the feeling of embarrassment which will be masked by anger.
- Emphasise on the importance of coming forward to your child. Use encouraging words like participation, team work, sharing and helping. This adds value to their actions.
- Lastly let them come to you. When the time is right, they will initiate and fix things right. Who else can boost their self confidence?
So go along, reflect on your actions and open the reasoning chest of the child by dialogue. In the process, you sow the seeds of virtues like honesty, courage, honour, respect, responsibility, restraint, and authenticity. It is a matter of time the child will realise what they mean...
A little about me - I am a counselling psychologist. I guide parents and assist them in incorporating behavior modification skills in handling children. Visit www.myfitbrain.in and get in touch with me to get all your queries answered. Book a session today!
Till then happy parenting!