reconsider your requests
and it's a goodie.
here's a snippet:
"... the problem isn't with the child but with what it is you're demanding. It's remarkable how few books written for parents even raise this possibility. The vast majority of them take whatever their readers want their kids to do as the point of departure, and then offer techniques for getting compliance. In most cases, these techniques involve 'positive reinforcement' or 'consequences' – that is, bribes and threats. "
it's so simple but, dude... it's pretty deep stuff.
and now that i'm in tune with this, i really think about my requests.
of course, i realize that a request made to a sixteen month old is different to one made to a three year old and we're not even at a point where bribes and/or threats could even come into play (and i have every hope and intention that they will not) but this is some serious food for thought.
plus it's quite easy for me to imagine myself in situations that i have a 100% certainty of facing in the
not-so-far-off future that i can apply this mode of thought to.
it's pretty radical compared to what, i think, the norm is, too.
sometimes it's like the adult mommy-and-daddy figures are the bosses.
what they say goes.
do what you're told.
they're the ones in charge, you're the kid.
it almost stops me in my tracks to think how simple but how true the notion of reconsidering one's requests is, meeting half-way, negotiating, compromising – or at least just being open to the idea... and stopping for a minute to take the child's age and your own expectation into consideration.
alfie kohn suggests that we ask ourselves whether or not a child should do something just because they're able to do it.
if an experience is excruciating (in his example, a child who hates practicing piano) shouldn't we ask ourselves why we force it upon our child?
rewind to yesterday evening's swim lesson.
bonz does not love the swim lessons.
we started him a few months back and he hated it – the noisy and chaotic indoor pool environment didn't help matters, either.
so we took a few months off and started back last week.
and it was alright – we didn't go under water and just splashed and reacquainted ourselves with the pool and the class.
yesterday, however, he just wasn't into it.
he was crying – hard.
so we got out of the water and i held him close while he watched and cried and watched and cried... but then he was motioning towards the water so we got back in and finished up the class and he was okay – on the fence but okay.
it's hard not to look at a situation like this with alfie-kohn-lenses on.
should i keep at lessons even though he seemingly doesn't like them – just push through?
as the instructor said, "it's your will against his." (btw: ewwww.)
or should i put the brakes on the whole operation again and try it again another time – a different pool, different instructor?
i think my answer is in the middle: we'll try again next week and if bonzo responds to it we'll continue but if he's telling me no shouldn't i listen? reconsider my request maybe?
there's more of this reconsidering stuff to come as life unfolds, i know.
i've hardly even gotten my pinky toe wet at this point but i love the seed it plants in my mind and how it gets me thinking – and always challenging my thoughts and myself.
three cheers, alfie kohn.
ps: the first installment to what will become a thirteen-post-long series is here.