Savor the Moment To Have a Teaching Moment
A mom recently asked me about what should she do when she has promised her daughter she's going to go somewhere, like let's say we have plans to go to the library today and her daughter starts acting up and behaving in ways that the mom was not thrilled about.
And she said “Okay, well then we're not going to go to the library.”
The mom asked, is that the right thing to do?
Should I be doing that?
Should I be bargaining with my child?
For example, “Well, if you do this then we're not going here. If you do this and we're not gonna do this. If you can't sit still then we're not going to go to the park.”
I will admit as a parent, a while ago because my kids are in their 20s, I used bargaining chips with them.
We've all done it and my kids are fine, but let's take a deeper look at this for a moment.
If you give them bargaining chips, then you've looked over the moment to use that time as a teaching moment.
Your intentions were good, but what you've done is you have lost the chance to use that behavior as a teaching moment and help your child work through their frustrations of why they may be acting the way they're acting so that the next time they can learn through this.
For example, Let's say that your child is very frustrated and they are throwing their toys all over the room and you said to them, “I promised you we were going to go get ice cream, but if you continue to act this way, we are not going to get ice cream.”
What normally happens is your child gets more upset.
Let's go back and instead of trying to change the behavior (a bargaining chip), let's see if we can figure out what's the root cause here.
If you can figure that out and make it a teaching moment, it's a win win.
Notice what your child is doing.
When they get frustrated, stop, take three deep breaths and say:
“Bobby, you seem frustrated. You have difficulty putting the Legos together and they wouldn't fit and you got frustrated and you started throwing them. You're working really hard to try to get those Legos to fit. Let's see if we can work together and see if we can get them to fit together.
Let's see where are you having trouble? Show me.”
And at that point you can help facilitate the goal that they want of trying to build something.
Do it for them, ask them questions.
“Where are you having trouble?”
“What doesn't fit?”
“Which one do you want help with?”
Acknowledge when you're frustrated, breathe and calm down.
“When you throw your Legos, you might break them. When you throw your Legos at me, it hurts. It hurts when you throw them at me. Let's work together.”
As a parent you are not going to be able to do that if you do not compose yourself first.
So if you see the toys getting thrown, stop. Take a deep breath. You first.
Remember, put your own oxygen mask on first is the metaphor.
Tell yourself I can handle this. Calm yourself. Then you can calmly talk to your child.
Acknowledge their feelings, acknowledge what just happened, work through it.
This now becomes a learning moment, a teaching moment for you, a learning moment for your child..
And you won't have to use a threat. You won't have to use a bargaining chip. That's not teaching them. We need to teach our children how to learn to manage their behavior.
We can't do that if we're not composed and if we can't help them through it.
Let me know if you have more questions. Put the comments in the comment box below. I'm sure whatever issues you're having or questions you're having, there's at least 10 more people that have the same ones. So let's talk about it. Let's help each other.