I’ve talked before about how I am a fan of the Love and Logic parenting and teaching model. This has given me a lot of tools and phrases to use in difficult situations with kids. The most powerful two are pretty simple, and they are “Bummer!” and “Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?” I’m not in a position to explain the philosophies and principles of Love and Logic to you, but I’d like to explain very quickly how thinking using the latter as a tool has helped me.
It’s pretty easy to use and it goes like this: when a kid is in a situation that is causing frustration and anxiety, you offer them a few solutions. When they’re faced with something overwhelming and don’t know what to do, if they’re crying, if they’re angry, simply say the phrase to them. Then offer them a few choices. Can’t find your iPod? Ok. Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried? Some kids have thought of the last place they saw it and then looked there. Some kids have cleaned their rooms in order to find it. Some kids would ask their parents to text the iPod and listen for the ring tone. Some kids just accept that it’s gone and move on. What would you like to do?
I’ve done this for many years in the classroom and in the past several I’ve been able to use it as a strategy at home with Daughter. One of my favorite people heard me using this as a parent and commented on how he should use it in his work, jokingly. He has what I would call a very important job, though that’s not what he would say. He really likes the strategy, though. It seems he thinks I’m parenting pretty well along with Husband and some great guidance and modeling. Anyway, we both joked about how ridiculous it would sound in a meeting with adults. Would you like to hear what some other VPs have tried? just doesn’t have the same ring.
I was recently in a situation with my mother in which she was in a pretty tough spot. She felt overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, scared, and there wasn’t really anything I could do to help her. So, when she was facing a hard choice, when she knew what all of the options were, all I could think to say was “What would you like to do?” I was told later that simply saying that gave her some of her dignity and independence. I’m proud to have been able to give that little grace to her.
It’s such a simple thing, giving someone a choice. The gift of independence can be easy to take away, but it’s easy to give, too.