“Honey, please do not walk on the pillows that belong on the living room sofa.”
“Don’t touch those Mom. They’re my castle!”
Your little tyke and you may view a same situation and interpret it differently. That’s because you have different paradigms, different mental maps through which you view the world.
(This article is a sequel to Listening with Open Minds)
Mom invests in living room pillows for comfort or decoration. Junior might notice the soft fabric and pretty colors on the cushions too; that’s what makes them better for building mansions.
Both perceive the same data (soft fabric and beautiful designs) yet interpret the value differently.
It’s like when Mom comes home with a newborn. Everyone notices that mother spends time feeding and bathing the babe. New Big Sibling also sees this was time previously dedicated to him. Mom interprets her new behavior as caring for her family. Might Older Sibling take it personally and question his important?Paradigms matter. A child who believes he matters feels better and behaves better. The opposite is also true. A child seeking belonging express it…often through misbehavior.
So, the next time the Delight of Your Life acts up, try connecting with him in a new way. Explore his perspective.
Easier said than done.
That’s why we propose this game-like activity where parent and child get to draw pictures and explain them to each other. Is the use of the living room an issue of tension? Then map it out. Is your child a I-Will-NEVER-Eat-Vegetables? Try drawing an ideal meal. Siblings fight?
How To Map Out Your Home
– Draw your respective maps of your home or living room.
– Attention spans can be limited so give yourself a limit: 5-10 minutes on the kitchen timer or a maximum of 10 items in the living room.
– Take turns to present your interpretations.
“Castles have those special doors.”
“Yes. Your favorite chair makes a good drawbridge…”
– Compare drawings. Remain factual and, when possible, positive.
– Conclude by finding a way to satisfy both of your needs (partly, is OK).
“Sweetheart, you may use the chair for the drawbridge. You may use the pig pillows to build your castle, but they need to be put back in place BEFORE you leave the room. The little pillows stay on the sofa…
…Let’s check next week how well this castle-building agreement is working for us.”
“Darling, about our castle-building agreement, how well did it work?”
“Who picked up the pillows?”
“So, this week, let’s try something new. How about if you build your castle in your bedroom with your pillows?”
“But I LIKE the living room castles!”
“Show me that you can be responsible with putting pillows away in your room and we can test caste-building in the living room again.”
Yes, next week is tweaking time again. Do notice, though, the change in the starting point of the discussion. The parent gained in understanding. The kid knows he has responsibilities and that his choices and behavior count.