We needed to leave the house to go to the supermarket for a few things and my daughter was not in the mood! The Hand in Hand parenting philosophy is based on the idea that our children will co-operate with us providing three conditions are met.
- They feel well-connected to us.
- There are no hurt feelings getting in the way of their thinking.
- If what we are asking is rational and reasonable.
3. I do try not to drag my daughter on long shopping trips. The shop is only 5 minutes away. We only needed a few things, and we’d be back home playing in no time. I do try and give my daughter as much power and control in our life as possible in order to avoid those everyday power struggles. I try also to be as aware of her need to play and have fun as much as possible.
So, I assumed that the issue was 1 or 2. That my daughter wasn’t feeling well-connected to me, and she had some hurt feelings getting in the way of being able to listen to my rational, and reasonable explanations of why we needed to go to the shop.
I could of tried bribing with chocolate! ”If we go to the supermarket I’ll buy you a kinder egg, or a chocolate croissant.” That might have worked. And it’s not that I’ve got anything against chocolate. But using food as a bribe isn’t the gentlest option. Those upset feelings would be still under the surface, likely to come out when I next needed to try to get my daughter to co-operate. Bribes would also create a more ‘transactional’ relationship, based on us both getting what we want, rather than focusing on the underlying connection between us.
So somehow, in that frustrating moment of trying to get out of the house, I stopped the rationalising and reasoning talk that never works, and came up with an idea.
I told her that we had a magic chair, and all we needed to do was say abracadabra, and the food we needed would be magicked onto the chair. So I would say ”okay we need some pasta, tomato sauce and some apples. Lets try this. Abracadraba” and then I’d race and put a few random objects on the chair, like a toy banana, my wallet, bowls and a plate. Then I’d say ”oh no! That’s not right. This magic doesn’t seem to be working. This isn’t what I wanted from the supermarket.” My daughter would laugh and laugh.
I repeated this again with other random objects. Each time I would acted all frustrated and confused when we ended up with the wrong shopping. My daughter found this hilarious, and in the end she said in a sensible voice, ”come on mum, lets just go.”
This was such a great reminder to me. All the times I find myself repeating myself, and trying to rationalise and reason with my daughter. I don’t need to tell her 100 times. All I need to do is just explain once, and then use play and connection when things don’t work.
So next time you need to get out of the house, try a bit of play and connection. It can take a bit of a time but it’s surprisingly quicker than persuasion tactics!