This week has been particularly tiring for me as I have had to deal with more tantrums than usual from both my boys. Basically testing boundaries and wanting their own way. Just a lot more than usual.
Some tussles were over eating the vegetables on their plate. Some over tv time. The tussles don't disappear. They just change. Well, maybe mine haven't really changed all that much yet.
Today, I want to share a story about shoes.
My younger son K is 4. And from time to time, K loves to challenge my authority. He relishes it with glee or so i imagine. He enjoys testing the limits, pushing the boundaries and I have tried sooo very hard to be firm. This has not been easy for me. In fact, I am continually tested but I happened to have success last friday and I would like to share this story with you.
Last friday, my kids and I visited a friend. We stayed quite late as my kids played with her kids. Since there wasn't school the next day, I was a little more relaxed with our schedules. Not surprisingly, K was quite tired by the time we left.
I asked him to put on his shoes as we were leaving and he flopped onto the floor next to them and refused to put them on.
He asked me to put them on for him. I had already agreed to carry him because he was tired but I didn't see why he couldn't put on his shoes.
So I held my ground and I told him that he would have to do it himself.
All this while, my friend witnessed everything. Thankfully, she is a long-time friend and I didn't feel embarrassed nor worried about what she would think. She kindly walked inside to give me a little space as I tried to sort out the tricky shoe situation.
I counted to three and he refused to budge.
It was then that I realised that he was in that place.
The place where there was only one winner.
So I decided to reframe the problem for him.
I gave him a different perspective.
I told him that I would carry him in 10 seconds whether or not he had his shoes on. So he could decide for himself if he would like to put them on. I said this gently and without impatience to show him that it didn't matter to me.
It was really his choice.
Somehow he understood that the ball was now in his court.
He slowly stood up and put on his shoes with a bit of a glum look.
At this point, my friend returned and asked me who won? She asked if mummy won? At which, my son exclaimed loudly that mummy didn't win. I then realised I had unwittingly defused the power struggle that had taken place a few moments ago by reframing the situation for my son. I told him, he was right, that mummy didn't win. Because I had chosen to give him a choice as to whether to put on his shoes or to leave it behind. Then I affirmed him that he chose well because he decided to put on his shoes.
He seemed pacified by that.
Thankfully a change in perspective for him helped him to make the right choice.
Sometimes in life, when faced with a problem that won't budge, perhaps what you need is a change in perspective.
I enjoyed this article about how physical sensations can help you to think out of the box. The research was carried out by some smart people at SMU too.
So the next time you feel a little stuck. Move around and try doing something else. It might just spark your next idea kinda like Steven Spielberg.
p/s For those of you mums and dads out there who are struggling with kids and their tantrums too, you will like these photos taken by a dad who chronicled his son's temper tantrums which REALLY gave me a good laugh yesterday. Read the captions!