I’m currently reading Parenting the Strong Willed Child (partly in response to a horrible couple of weeks, around the time of the really bad day). Step one in the five step program is “attending,” or making statements that echo your child’s actions while playing together or participating in an activity, i.e. “You’re building a tower!” or “You’re coloring with the red crayon!” Only both of those statements are assuming that my kids actually sit and color for more than 2 minutes or build with the blocks instead of throwing them around willy nilly.
The point is to let them lead the activity and not ask them any questions of give any directions, and the child will respond positively, eager that you the doting parent are so interested in their actions. It’s actually much harder than it sounds, but I’m still going to call this one a total fail.
Let’s set the scene: Rachel is reading a book. Enter the mother, eager to practice her attending skills.
Me: “Can I read with you?” Oops, question. Should’ve just said, “You’re reading a book!”
R: “No, let’s play dinosaurs.”
Me: “Okay, good idea.” Yes! Like that!
R: “Where are all the dinosaurs?”
Me: “They’re all right here.” You know, from when you tossed them all about earlier?
R: “But where’s my horse?” Easily distracted much?
Me: “Um, I don’t know. Do you think the dinosaur wants to ride in the tractor?” Dangit! Not only is that a question, but I’m trying to lead the activity like a big old dinosaur pushing bully!
R: “But we need to play bubbles!” Yes, dinosaurs, horse, bubbles…the natural progression of things.
Me: “No, we can’t go outside right now. I thought you wanted to play dinosaurs?” Trust me, I had a good reason whatever it was. I’m not trying to deprive my kids of vitamin D.
R: “No, I can’t!!!!” [runs dramatically from the room]
I guess I’ll keep practicing this one.
In an effort to fund my kids’ My Little Pony habit, this post contains an Amazon affiliate link.