Solving Problems Together – part 1
Slow down! Stop rushing, and above all, stop rushing your children! Take the word “hurry” and hide it. It’s a word children don’t understand anyhow and won’t obey even if they were to understand it. What children hear when you say “hurry” is that you’re going to leave them. They are frightened by that idea and instead of doing what you want, they may become paralyzed with anxiety or fear and many times end up actually slowing down and becoming somewhat befuddled!
So, instead of frantically calling out to your children and telling or asking them to hurry, you can plan ahead and create strategies that have better chances of working. Here is a suggestion you might try.
First, in a calm manner and at a time when you are not going anywhere, when there is no pending problem, tell your child that you have a problem and need his help in solving it. ( I am not certain how versed you are with this kind of dialogue, so I am going to give you examples of the words to say.) Say, “ Gee, I’ve got a problem and I need your help. Are you available now to hear my problem and help me problem solve?” Probably your child will say, “Sure.” But if he doesn’t, then you say, “When would be a good time for me to talk to you about my problem?” He says, “In about 30 minutes.” You return in 30 minutes. Then you say, “I’m feeling really upset because each morning when it’s time to go to school I find myself yelling at you to hurry so I won’t be late for work. I don’t want to yell at you, I feel terrible when I do that, but I get so nervous that I’m going to be late for work, that I just lose it and start yelling. I want to be on time for work, and I don’t want to yell at you any more. Can you think of a plan we could create that would help me get to the car in a more peaceful manner, that would still allow me to get to work on time and not yell at you in the process?”
Your child could say almost anything, so I’ll have to guess! He might say, “I sure hate it when you yell at me. I don’t want to leave the house; I just want to hide somewhere when you do that.” Or he might offer up a solution like, “Maybe you could get up earlier.” When he begins to offer a suggestion, you get out a piece of paper and start writing down any of his suggestions. Hopefully his ideas will also give you new ideas, too. Your idea list might look like this:
1. Mom gets up 15 minutes earlier to have more time.
2. Child gets own alarm clock and uses it to get himself up instead of having Mom wake him.
3. Before Mom starts yelling and goes out the door, Mom gives Child a 5-minute notice (Mom cheerfully says, ‘The car is pulling out in 5 minutes.”), then a 1 minute notice.
4. Child dresses before eating breakfast to make sure he’s ready after he eats.
5. Mom rings a bell when she’s ready to leave instead of calling (yelling) out.
6. Child gives the 5-minute warning to Mom and then the 1-minute warning to her.
7. Child packs lunch the night before.
8. Mom and Child put shoes by the door the night before.
9. Child selects clothes for school the night before and lays them out on his dresser.
… to be continued
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Director/Elementary 1 Teacher