Sometimes we don’t recognize the child’s effort because it doesn’t come across as how we’d like it to be. We have an idea of what we want, what it should look like and how to get it – the ‘Adult’s’ way, usually formed from past experiences of what we’ve found works. Kids have their way too,but usually exercised differently from us.
Just yesterday, Claire, my 3 year old niece reached for a tub of cookies and spilt my mug of hot Milo in the process. Shocked, I yelped and groaned loudly, “CLAIRRREEE!!!!!”and buried my face in my hands. She ran off to grab 6 pieces of tissue from the tissue box and went about cleaning up her chair, stepping all over the sticky liquid on the floor and spreading it as she ran back and forth to the tissue box.
“CLAIRE your feet are sticky stop coming into this area! You’re making it worse!” I exclaimed. “I’ll clean it up for you, get away from here.” After two tries, she stopped, and walked away.
After cleaning the mess up, I called out for her several times rather sternly wondering where she had run off to with her sticky little feet. It was a while before a small voice came from the garden. She was picking fallen flowers off the driveway looking somewhat disheartened.
In that moment I realized that in my fervour to contain the mess, I failed to see and support her effort in helping clean her accident up. She was so focused on wiping down her chair of course she wouldn’t care, or know, the consequences of walking around with sticky feet! She’s a 3 year old, geez! I was expecting too much from her in that moment of chaos. I lost my clarity and calm. I chided her for being ignorant in her ways without noticing that I was equally ignorant in mine. I reacted, and my focus went to what she’s doing wrong instead of what she’s doing right.
I asked if I gave her a shock with my loud reaction and she nodded. I apologised and explained that I was shocked too. We fist bumped and made up. I still feel guilty for brushing her good intention aside, but I’m learning that conscious parenting is a journey. Make up and connect when you can; learn and own up when you can’t. It’s the second best way to do right to the Child.
Recognize efforts instead of right/wrong, then focus on supporting and improving those efforts.