Posts Tagged ‘communicate’
Teaches Mom a Lesson
By Erin Jauert © 2012
It was a typical Thursday morning. Everyone had slept a little later than they should have. Someone had put the peanut butter jar back on the shelf even though it was empty, and a clean pair of matching socks seemed to be as elusive as ever. As I was double-checking my kindergartener’s backpack and stashing his snack into the front zippered pouch, he looked
up at me with his sweet, dimpled face and said, “Mama, there’s something I forgot to tell
you last night.” “Oh yeah?” I said, only half listening as my mind raced through a list of
the day’s events. “There’s a boy on the bus who’s been punching me in the stomach.”
And just like that, my mind went blank. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. This was, after all, what I’d feared most since that crisp
fall morning 5 months ago when I’d sent him off to his first day of school. “What do you mean?” I asked, “Has it happened more than once?” “Yes,” he said, “It happened yesterday and the day before that … and one time last week.” Doing my best to maintain my composure, I calmly asked, “Do you think you could sit in a different seat where you wouldn’t be near him?” Without hesitation, my sweet boy insisted, “No, he’s not supposed to, but he climbs all over the bus while it’s moving … no matter where I go, I know he’ll find me.” My breath caught in the back of my throat and I started to think about how I’d love to teach that little bully a thing or two about messing with my baby. Little did I know that I was the one about to get schooled.
My 6-year-old continued, “I mean, I know his bucket is empty and that’s why he’s doing it … it’s just that I don’t know how to fill it, Mama.”
It’s hard to say if I was more proud of my son for remembering the lesson his dad and I had thoughtfully weaved into so many prior conversations or more embarrassed that in that moment my kindergartener had to be the one to remind me of it. Either way, I felt an instant calm sweep over me. Just as my son had known all along, this wasn’t about him at all. It was about another child, someone else’s baby, who was lacking something, needing something, wanting something. I explained to my son that he was exactly right, that in most cases when someone treats another person badly, it’s because they’re feeling bad about themselves. We brainstormed ideas for ways to fill this little boy’s bucket. “You could give him a compliment,” I said. “Maybe I could take him a treat,” my son suggested. In the end, we agreed that just like everyone else, more than anything, he probably just needed a friend.
Later that morning I watched the clock, noting the kids were probably just getting settled on the bus for the ride home. Even though he seemed confident with the plan we had devised, I couldn’t shake the nerves as I thought about my baby getting punched in the stomach yet again. Thirty minutes later the bus pulled up, slowed to a stop and I watched as my kindergartener bounced down the steps. He didn’t look like a child who had just been punched in the stomach, but I had to hear it for myself. “So … anything happen with the bully on the bus today?” I asked. “Yeah, something happened alright,” he said. “As soon as we got on, I asked him if he wanted to play with me. We played Lion King the whole way home … it was awesome!”
While this experience has come and gone in my son’s mind, it’s something I keep revisiting in my own. I’m sorry that he got punched in the stomach, but grateful that he felt comfortable telling me about it. I’m ashamed of my initial reaction, but amazed by the way my 6-year-old was able to redirect me to the heart of the issue. Above all, this experience serves as an important reminder about how important it is as parents that we talk to our children about things that are happening and about things that aren’t happening, but could. You never know when your kids will encounter a situation where your words will help guide them. Thanks to many prior conversations about this issue, both directly and indirectly, my kindergartener was armed with the confidence he needed to face a bully on the school bus with both courage and compassion
What to Give Your Child for the Holidays
by Tina Feigal © 2011
Each year, kids are excited about the gifts they will receive. Visions of XBOX 360s, Wii’s, iPhones, skis, dolls, trucks, stuffed animals, Legos, and a variety of other gifts float through their heads. After the holiday, the gifts often lose some of their allure, and kids are back to saying, “I’m bored.” So let’s focus instead on a gift that keeps on giving.
I’m going to suggest that you give your child a sense of himself as a needed person for a gift this year. It’s something that doesn’t come to most adults during the annual holiday buying frenzy, but it’s a gift that will keep on giving for a lifetime. So stop for a few minutes and think of ways you can set your child up for feeling really valued, cared for, and yes, generous, during this holiday season. After all, isn’t that what we all want? Kids with a strong sense of their place in the world as contributors? You have the power in this special time of year to create a kid with a true sense of purpose, something he or she will remember for years to come.
To create a success around being needed, take your child into your confidence around a gift you are thinking of giving his sibling. Ask, “Do you think she’d like the red sweater or this cute skirt better?” Then take your child’s advice. It’s more important to build a giving spirit than to get the perfect gift.
Ask what he thinks he’d like to give his sister, and then offer to help him get it if he’s too young to have his own money. Give him heartfelt appreciation when he makes a selection, and talk up his gift before it’s opened. Say, “I love how thoughtfully you chose this for Samantha. I think she’s gonna love it.”
Let your kids see you giving to people outside the family who may be in need. If you are donating toys, don’t just take care of it when they kids are in school, but include them in the selection and the dropping off at the collection site. This way they feel part of something bigger than the immediate family, and remember how fortunate they are. Or if there’s a needy family in your faith community, be sure your kids contribute some of their allowance to participate in the family’s giving efforts. If you want grateful, generous kids, put more of your effort into fostering their gratitude and generosity than into trying to please them.
Giving doesn’t have to be material. If you see an opportunity for your child to push the ottoman closer to grandpa’s chair, give him the gift of quietly suggesting he do so. If you see him spontaneously sharing his time with a younger cousin, be sure he hears how much you admire that. If she works hard to maintain a good mood when in a crowd of people, give her positive feedback so she sees what you see, a child who makes an effort for others.
The chances to give your child kudos abound at holiday time. Plan now to tap the present moment to focus on them, and watch him “glow” with a strong sense of his own strength as a giving person. The benefits are immeasurable, and everyone receives them!
For parent coaching on what to give your child for the holidays or any other topic, contact Tina Feigal at 651-453-0123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Your Child Can’t Tell You
It’s essentially a short-cut. If you want cooperative behavior from your kids, take the short-cut by training your mind to see what’s beneath the communication. Practice seeing your child’s innocence first, and working to understand what lies beneath the foul language, the time spent with the door locked, and the “interesting” style of dress. You will find a vulnerable, changing child who simply doesn’t have insight yet. That’s our job as adults … to gain the insight and act accordingly.
Rather than exhibit anger over disrespectful behavior, acknowledge there’s an emotion that the child cannot express directly lying just under the surface. Kids get hurt a lot easier than most adults realize, so they are compelled to protect their tender hearts by lashing out. If we don’t give them cause to protect themselves (by seeing what’s really going on) they won’t have to be so defensive.
So the next time you see a child “acting out”, ask yourself what’s being communicated. It will be an emotion that the child is too young or too immature to express directly, such as hurt, frustration, disappointment, hopelessness, or something else you can help to identify. Then address the child in those terms, rather than with your own irritation. Say, “You seem upset. Want to tell me what’s up?” or “How about you take some time in your own room until you feel better and we can talk?” or “I remember being your age and feeling that same way. Sit down, and let’s try to make this better together.” You are getting to the root emotion, rather than placing judgment on the child’s behavior. Congratulations! You are on the short-cut to better communication and better behavior with your child.
Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal