Oh my, I’m already seeing some resistance, some rebellion, if you could call it that, in Margaret at almost-6.  This morning I said, “Margaret, let’s make up your bed.  Please grab the corner of your side of the sheet.” and she flopped down onto the bed, giggling, instead of doing it.  What does a “good enough” parent do with that?  Bruno Bettelheim would say that our first responsibility is to empathize, to feel that part of us that wants to flop down on the bed too, or to imagine what the child is feeling.  Then I guess to name it.  Help the child make sense of what he or she is doing, since they may not really know, and our job is to help children make sense not just of the outer world, but of their inner worlds as well.  Then we set a limit and give a choice with a consequence.  I guess that would sound like this, “Oh you are still tired from the night, and you just want to be silly and giggle together.  Maybe you even want to lie down together and snuggle before the day begins in earnest.  I feel the same way too sometimes.  Getting up and going in the morning is hard.  Let’s enjoy one more minute in bed before we pull ourselves up and start the first task making the room look beautiful together.  We can even do it slowly.  Then we can enjoy your pretty room.  I will only go on to the next task of making your breakfast once your bed is made, so if you want breakfast, you will need to make your bed first.”  Snuggle for one minute together, then get up and slowly make my side of the bed, whether she wants to or not, then walk downstairs whether she comes or not.  Don’t make her breakfast until her bed is made.  The only drawback here is having to walk back upstairs to check that the bed is made.  I could have some consequence for not being truthful about it and then trust her if she says she did do it.  But as of yet, we don’t have a system like that set up.
I like this approach that I’ve written up (which wasn’t the way things went this morning).  I wish I had taken the time to really get inside of her silliness and her desire to flop on the bed.  Maybe my musings here get her wrong, misunderstand what her motive in flopping was, but I can imagine feeling that way.  It is so true that we are limited in what we can love in others by what we can imagine in ourselves.

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