Control Your Own Behavior
Parents and teachers must learn to control their own behavior
before they can expect children to control their behavior.
Take some positive time-out yourself (breath, count to 10, go sit in your favorite chair—or whatever it takes for you to feel better so you can do better).
I am looking forward to focusing on this tool card. I had a discussion with Dr. Jane Nelsen yesterday about my difficulty communicating with my teenager. In my mind it seems like Gibson is just trying to stir up controversy and start arguments. I even went as far as to suggest that Gibson join the debate team at school so he could get all that arguing out of his system.
But then Jane said something to me that really hit home. "It takes two to argue."
Uhhhh...that's a pretty good point. In fact, I didn't have a response for that. Talk about a debate ending statement. Then she suggested that I just use questions to allow Gibson to explore his ideas without engaging in an argument.
The other day I was fixing breakfast and Gibson announced that we needed to replace the banister on the stairs because it didn't seem too sturdy and he was worried that it would break when he leaned on it. Since my kids not only lean on the banister, they often practice gymnastics moves on it, my immediate thought was "Then don't lean on it!"
Now just because that was my initial thought, doesn't mean I have to say that. Right? But often I don't have much of a filter between my thoughts and my mouth, so what I said was "Then don't lean on it!" Then Gibson said, but what if I forget and just lean on it like this. (and he demonstrated leaning on the banister) Then I said "Don't lean on it!" By that time Gibson was in full debate mode and was about to argue the Pythagorean theorem as it relates to banisters. But I didn't even let him get that far and I said "D. O. N. apostrophe T lean on it!"
Now let's rewind a bit and see how that discussion could have gone if I would have just taken a deep breath, pushed my initial thoughts aside and just explored the possibilities with my son.
Gibson: "Dad, we need to replace this banister because I am worried it will break when I lean on it."
Dad: "Oh, tell me more about that."
Gibson: "Well, it doesn't seem very sturdy."
Dad: "Hmmm...what do you think we could do about it."
Gibson: "We should replace it."
Dad: "How much do you think that would cost."
Gibson: "I don't know."
Dad: "Well, maybe you could check into that for me."
This may or may not put an end to the topic of replacing the banister. It depends on how much Gibson is invested in this notion. My guess is he probably would have let the topic drop and would not have brought it up again. (By the way I did checked the banister and it is extremely sturdy despite the fact that my children like to lean and swing on it.)
But let's also explore the possibility that Gibson was really invested in his idea of replacing the banister and follows through finding out how much it would cost. Maybe he finds out it would be $1,000. That's when I could say "Wow that's a lot of money. I can't afford that, would you be willing to save your money to replace the banister?"
Case closed, end of discussion.
It seems that it takes a conscious effort for my filter to work on most occasions. Sometimes I just have to smile and nod! :) Jane is so right when she says that it takes two to argue and in my experience, reflective questions really do work. I think I am getting better at it....but I definately have my moments!
I realize that this blog is called "SingleDadBrad"...but it's hard not to note that this advice would likely be awfully good when dealing with spouses :-)
I really enjoyed this post. I love the stories you use to illustrate these things. thanks again.
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