Journey from hell
By Camilla McGill. October, 2018
A wonderful mother in a parenting class I teach told this story and I wanted to share it. She was on a coach back from Leeds after a three day trip with her six year old daughter 'Emily'. Emily absolutely refused to put her seatbelt on and 'Rachel' was at her wits end.
'I just didn't know what to do. Emily started screaming and kicking the seat in front of her. She pushed me away everytime I reached over to put the belt on and was absolutely adamant that she wouldn't wear it. People around me were getting so frustrated. They kept chipping in with 'helpful' comments like 'That child just needs a firm hand. You need to show her who is boss.' or 'Oh well, leave her to it and if the driver breaks she will be sorry'. I remembered what we'd talked about in our class the previous week about stepping into our children's shoes and I thought about the weekend we'd had. She hadn't stopped running around, she hadn't slept much and she'd had lots of junk food, none of which she is used to. I realised that she was absolutely exhausted and she was not intentionally trying to be difficult. I took a deep breath and changed my tone of voice. I held her hand and told her I understood how she wasn't feeling herself. I told her that she probably felt frightened of being on a crowded coach facing a long journey and that I was sure she just wanted to be in her own bed. She visibly relaxed and was also a little tearful. After stroking her hand for a minute or two I said gently 'You know what you need to do with your seatbelt don't you?'. She nooded and reached behind her and passed it to me to click into place. It was such a relief. When we got home she asked if she could watch TV and I just told her calmly that her behaviour on the coach meant that she had to skip TV for that night. I didn't say it in a punitive way and she completely accepted it and knew why I'd given her this consequence. After she'd gone to bed I gave myself a huge pat on the back for handling the situation so much better than I would have in the past."
How not to react when they hurt themselves
By Camilla McGill. October, 2018
I was watching an Italian grandma looking after her active 6 year old grandson the other day. They were in the park and the little boy was thrilled to be on his skateboard. The grandma didn't look very relaxed about it. After a moment the little boy had a wobble and fell off. I was really interested to see what happened next. It didn't look to me like the boy had hurt himself badly. Grandma's reaction was what I predicted. She rushed over shouting 'Mama Mia, Freddie, Freddie'. I think the boy was more shocked by her reaction than anything else and he started crying loudly. She took the skateboard under her arm and marched off with a sobbing boy in tow. It is so hard to stop what feels like a knee-jerk reaction - the need to get uspet and panicky when a child falls. It is so much better to press 'pause' for yourself and think 'what is the best way of reacting?'. If she'd come over in a bright and breezy way, helped him dust himself off and get back on the board, he'd have got a very different message and would have had the chance to practice again and stay upright for longer. Children are so much better off learning how to deal with mistakes, learning coping strategies and how to bounce back from an upset. It gives them skills for life.