This morning we had a melting situation again, bordering on tantrum. my daughter didn’t want to go to school, she claimed her younger sister woke her up, and she was still tired. I validated and validated her feelings, but it never ends, it’s like she just keeps repeating herself. I told her I understand her frustration from being woken up, and that it’s not a nice feeling to go to school when you are tired, you want to have a lot of energy to play and learn. She continued whimpering and crying about it, and finally, we “changed” our mind and told her that we felt bad for her and decided to let her stay home. But I’m not sure that we did the right thing. How could we have addressed the situation better, my husband and I looked at each other with blank looks because we couldn’t think of any creative solutions.
First of all, I know how difficult it can be to learn new tricks- especially when it just doesn’t seem natural. We’re in this together though as we all learn!
Anyway, I think in my humble opinion you need to decide how well you did. From my understanding, you guys did great. Exactly what we discussed- rules go at the benefit of closeness.
BUT, was this option feasible for you? Did it end up in actual closeness? Would bringing her 5 minutes late have accomplished the same goal? Did this make your day messed up that you ended up resentful? All these must be taken into consideration, and then you and your husband must decide and rate how it went.
For instance, in the event that you could not have stayed home and needed her up and dressed, another option could have been to compensate her. In this case, for dealing ‘appropriately’ with the emotion and saying “I know, that you can cry and cry. But I’m so proud of you and because I know you’re going to control yourself, when you come downstairs I’ll have fruity pebbles waiting.”
Notice how this was not a bribe. It was your way of manipulating success for her and rewarding her for choosing a more appropriate option and compensation for being woken up so now things seem more “fair”. Choose something that you know she will respond well to and that wouldn’t end up in a position that you would feel upset with- hence, creating a distance bet you and her instead of a closeness.
One thing about repeating ourselves- and really it’s true about anything we say including validating- is that when we end up talking too much, it’s not as meaningful to the child. Looking at the child once or twice, putting your arm on her shoulder and saying “sweeti, you really seem to frustrated. I can imagine being woken up is pretty annoying. Let me know how I can help you work through this” would be better than repeatedly telling her how sorry you feel for her- which can wind up reinforcing the behavior as she wallows in her sorrow. After validating, I would move to Empowering but if she’s not ready- let her cry it out and deal with the consequences.
Question is: what is the consequence to not being ready for school on time? What is the reward for being ready? These are part of the “control” and “foresight” you need to have in the house.
I think in this specific example, you need to consider this a part of this dilemma. If there’s a strong consequence in place, you shouldn’t even have to ask her more than once to get ready. She’ll do it to avoid cons and get reward. Personally, all my kids have chosen dates to take off from school. Assuming they’re ready and on time for school every day, we spend that day together and they look forward to it a lot. If a day comes and they were upset about something or irresponsible and not ready, then that’s there “day off”! And if I’m working or not home, then its not half as exciting as planning a trip but they know that and that’s the decision they’ve made. I find that this solution works wonders for our morning…
Planning ahead, using rewards generally and consequences when necessary, creatively setting up the stage for success using foresight will help the family structure.