A little bit of trickery can go a long, long way, when it comes to parenting young children. All the way into your future. Trickery that you use now can create years of happiness.
But first – a question.
Have you noticed that the way you speak to your toddler or little boy/girl has been changing?
Take a moment to imagine the future of your relationship. Do you want to see your son/daughter getting along with you, respecting you, sharing ideas with you, working happily with you, playing sports (other recreational activities) with you as an older child, as a teenager, and as an adult? Your relationship starts now, and the way you speak to your child and interact with them – with your verbal language and body language – will determine how your child feels about you (and how you feel about them, too).
These 5 tricks may help you identify the kind of relationship you have now and whether your relationship can be any different. We all want a long, beautiful future ahead.
Trick 1: The Children Name-Swap
If you have more than one child, play a game of swapping names. For example, spend a day calling Ben ‘Jamie’, and calling Jamie ‘Ben’. Sounds silly – and is fun for the kids. What goes on beneath this game, however, is a whole lot of realization. You may realize that you tend to speak differently to your children. It might sound strange to talk in a gentle, sweet voice to the older child’s name, and conversely you are shocked to hear the innocent baby’s name tacked onto the end of a yell. Swapping the name of your children highlights how you have grown accustomed to treating them differently and that your expectations of your child have changed as he/she has grown older.
Trick 2: Down-age versus Up-age
This trick is another mind-game for you. It is simply about recognizing how far your little one has come already. It’s about seeing them from 0 years to 3 years old, and recognising how remarkable their development has been.
After our children have been around for a little while, it’s easy to take them for granted. Especially when they are trying so hard to be little boys and girls and
Remember – they are not 30 going on 3. They are 2 going on 3.
There’s a (for example) 27 year gap in life education between what we have and what they have. Think about what they have learned in 3 years and how remarkable their achievements are, as compared to how far they are falling short.
More patience, more admiration, more compliments, more positive feedback, more help and guidance, and more gentle language from you will go a long way.
Trick 3: Parent and child Name-swap
Similar to Trick 1, this trick involves swapping names. But this time you will call your children the parents’ names, and visa versa. This will also highlight how you speak to your child (and your spouse) and you may find that you are a touch too aggressive or impatient and treating different family members with pre-set ideas about how they will respond.
Think about why you talk to your spouse, or son, the way you do. Do you expect them to react a certain way? Why? Try to change your expectation by visualizing the outcome you want. Talk to your spouse, or your child, with a positive expectation in mind. You will find it easier to show respect, patience and love.
Trick 4: Pretend your child is a stranger
This is actually very hard to do. Can you be very aware of everything you say to your child and reflect on whether you would have spoken the same way to a stranger, or to another person’s child?
Why we believe it’s ok to speak unkindly to our own children but must speak kindly to friend’s children’s baffles me.
I believe in speaking nicely to ALL children.
Pretending your child is a stranger – by likening the way you speak to them to how you speak to a stranger at the shops – is a great tool to seeing how you might be seen from the other person’s viewpoint.
Trick 5. Playing grown-ups
This is the greatest trick of all time, and it’s not for the parent. And in fact, it’s already happening.
Your little one has tricked you already and may trick you again.
He or she is pretending to be grown up everyday. They do this by mimicking you, copying your behaviour, vocabulary and reciting your ideas. (But you can’t always see it because you are too close, and it is normal every day life.)
Your child doesn’t yet understand the reasons behind many things you do during the day. They roll along and join in, and even try doing most of it on their own.
We start to believe they are capable of being left alone.
He is only a little boy. She is only a little girl. They need our constant help, guidance, support and direction. They don’t yet know enough to make decisions and to be doing things alone.
On the upside, they are at a perfect age for learning HOW this is done.
So spend as much time with your little adult as you possibly can and move through the day and all their big decisions together. It is so important that they have your help to see how to approach situations and solve problems, to make and keep friends, and to have a fun day.
You only need to see the smile on your child’s face to know this is all worth the effort.
Happy Tricking, and Happy Treating!
Day by day we aim to repair our bodies and have trust, faith and optimism for the future. You can join me as I walk to wellness in the private facebook group Joanna Haley Homestead (Journey to Wellness)
Joanna Haley, Author