My last two blogs were on how to handle it when a child starts to exercise his powers. This week, however, some parents let me know that they resent having to resort to “tricks” to get their kids to cooperate. How about you? Do you feel that your child is being deliberately manipulative? That he is out to get you? I know that feeling. I certainly have had times that I wanted to scream because I felt like my kids was holding me hostage, keeping me from all the really important things I had to do (like crawl into bed exhausted!).
But try to stand in your child’s shoes for a while. From the moment she wakes up, she is on your schedule. She is eating the food you put in front of her. She is putting on clothes you picked out at the store. Very likely, she is going to child care or school because you need her to. Most of us do not have the luxury of following our child around on her schedule while food and clean laundry magically appear. Fair enough. Real life does demand that we attend to our responsibilities, but at least as parents, we actually get a lot of choice. Whether I take her to the park, build one more tower, read one more book—all that is ultimately up to me. If I decide to wear my jeans one more day and put off laundry or serve plain pasta again, that is also up to me.
Personally, I hate being told what to do. The idea of going on a group trip, for example, makes my skin prickle. No way do I want to have to show up in the lobby of a hotel somewhere to be shepherded on to a bus to be told what to look at to be served a meal of someone else’s choosing. Perhaps you do enjoy that kind of thing, but you still would have been the one to choose—historic homes or natural monuments? You see, a group trip is pretty much what your child is on every day. There may be delightful moments of activity or shared meals, but the choice of trip wasn’t theirs and it never ends! No wonder children begin to exercise power wherever they can.
I guess my plea to you, when you are racing to see who can get to the car first or as you pretend to be an alligator brushing your many teeth carefully so you can gobble up children who aren’t in bed is to feel it from your child’s point of view. It is hard to leave somewhere you are having fun. It is hard to stop an activity while you are in the middle of it. But maybe if we waddle down the hall like ducks, quacking all the way, that will make up for the fact, child, that you are being forced to leave to accommodate mom’s schedule.
Don't worry about looking silly. The more you do it the more natural it will feel.