(May 22, 2014) “You can’t talk to me that way, young man!”
As the words came out of her mouth, Jane realized she was falling into the same trap…again. But how much can one take of, “You can’t make me!”
The trap? You can’t get rid of disrespect with disrespect. You have to use respect to get respect. Jane took a deep breath.
“Let me start again. I apologize. I don’t want to hurt you or to let you hurt me. May we start this conversation over, please?”
Jane acknowledged Aiden’s feelings. “I see that you are upset. It upsets me when you talk to me that way. Let’s take some time to calm down and we can talk when you are ready. I’m going to take a walk around the block. Perhaps you’ll be ready to talk with love and respect when I get back.”
Six-year-old Aiden’s disrespectful language had grown into a daily habit that set Jane off. In her parenting class, Jane had learned that she needed to avoid returning the volley of disrespect.
Negative feelings are a sign that there are unmet needs. When we see negative behavior connected to these feelings, we have a big sign that there is a problem that is lurking below the surface.
Our biggest tools to help uncover the root problem and find a solution are to not fall into the trap of disrespect, but to plan ahead, to listen, and to create routines instead of giving orders.
Plan ahead. Jane had told Aiden that if he answered her in an unkind or disrespectful manner, she would tell him because it is not right to use your words to try to hurt other people. She told him she would ask what he was upset about. If he wasn’t able to talk about it, she would leave and take a walk or go to her room until he was ready to discuss the situation. When Jane told Aiden she was going to take a walk, he already knew this was part of the process.
Listen. Jane understood that Aiden’s inability to control his emotions and behavior was not about her. It was about his need to learn how to express his needs in a kind and loving way.
When we listen to our children and acknowledge their feelings it helps us uncover deeper problems. By listening and withholding judgment, criticism or punishment we start to connect to our children as we see from their point of view.
After Jane’s walk, her visit with Aiden revealed that he was concerned about not doing well at school. At school it seemed as though his teacher and friends criticized his poor handwriting and spelling. His mother telling him to put his shoes away was the tipping point. He couldn’t “blow” at school. Home with his mother was the only safe place to express his negative emotions.
Create routines. Jane learned that instead of barking orders to Aiden, they could establish routines to make sure chores were accomplished. With a routine she learned to say, “It’s time to get ready for dinner.” Aiden knew that meant putting shoes and activities away, and setting the table.
Planning ahead, listening and creating routines helped Jane and Aiden learn to solve their problems with love and respect.
Kids Talk TM is a column dealing with childhood development issues written by Blue Ribbon News guest columnist Maren Stark Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit MarenSchmidt.com. Copyright 2014.
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