What This Situation Is Like for Parents

 

You cannot be with your child all of the time.

They’re going to have to learn to leave your side at play dates.

They’re going to have to learn to stay with other care givers. They’re going to have to learn to go to school!

But when they cry and scream or hold onto your arm or simply refuse to let you leave, it’s mortifying. And you feel completely helpless.

And then you avoid situations when you’d have to drop them somewhere… or you absolutely dread those times when you know can’t get out of them. You plan your life around your child’s reactions, and eventually you become frustrated and resentful

 

What This Situation Is Like for Children

 

Some children seek exciting, new things… while other children feel so much more comfortable in the world that they know. They crave familiarity and predictability.

So when they have to go somewhere new, they cling to what seems safe.

And parents represent safety. They represent love. They represent everything that will comfort a child when they are afraid

When they sense parents’ frustration, it makes them feel even more out of control.

When they sense parents’ anxiety about situations where they have to leave them, it makes them feel even more unsettled. And they cling even more.

 

How It Usually Goes

When A Child Won’t Let You Leave

 

Scenario:

A mom is taking her two children, Tricia and Trevor, to the gym childcare center with her. Tricia and Trevor’s mom has been really stressed lately and knows she needs to work out to bring herself back to a good place so she can be a better mom. She also knows the childcare center is clean and safe and FUN… but when she tries to drop off Tricia, Tricia screams, grips her mom’s arm, and will not let her go.

 

Tricia (screaming): I don’t want you to gooooo!

Mom: Tricia! This place is fun! Look at all of the things you can do. And they have tablets!

Tricia: I hate tablets.

Mom: No you don’t. You beg me to play on your tablet all the time at home!

Tricia (screaming): I am NOT going in there. You can’t make me.

Mom: Tricia, I really need to work out. I HAVE to do thist.

Tricia: I don’t care! Work out at home! I’m not going in there.

Mom (notices Trevor getting upset too).

Tricia (starts crying even harder and pulls her mom away from the childcare center).

Mom (seeing her son upset, her daughter refusing to go into the center, feeling helpless and embarassed): Fine. Let’s just go home.

 

A More Effective Way to Respond When

When A Child Won’t Let You Leave

 

Scenario:

A mom is taking her two children, Tricia and Trevor, to the gym childcare center with her. Trica and Trevor’s mom has been really stressed lately and knows she needs to work out to bring herself back to a good place so she can be a better mom. She also knows the childcare center is clean and safe and FUN… but when she tries to drop off Tricia, Tricia screams, grips her mom’s arm, and will not let her go.

 

Tricia (screaming): I don’t want you to gooooo!

Mom (doesn’t say anything. She bends down to Tricia’s level.)

Tricia (gets a little quieter, but still insists she doesn’t want her mom to go.)

 

CALM

Tricia’s mom wants Tricia to just go into the childcare center. She desperately needs time to herself.

And she also knows that the more she pushes Tricia, the more resistant she will become. She knows that only when Tricia feels safe will she go somewhere she doesn’t want to go.

 

Mom (when Tricia is quiet enough for her to speak): I know you don’t want to go.

Tricia: NO.

Mom: It’s a new place, and new places can be scary.

 

CONNECT

Tricia’s mom wants to tell her she’s being silly, but instead she connects with her by recognizing her perspective.

She knows that that neither using logic or trying to push her too hard will be effective.

 

Tricia: I don’t know anyone.

Mom: You’re right. You don’t know anyone besides Trevor. And… (she pauses)

Tricia (looks at her mom, waiting to hear what she has to say)

Mom: Remember when we came here once before? And that nice woman showed you everything in the room?

Tricia (nods slowly).

Mom: Can you show me where the building stuff was? Because I cannot remember. That would really help.

Tricia (takes her mom’s hand and brings her and Trevor to where the blocks are).

Mom: Thanks, Tricia. Now I have a job for you. Do you think you can do it?

Tricia (shrugs).

Mom: Well I need you to build me something… and THEN draw a picture of it (she nods to where the paper and markers are) so I can see it when I come back for you and Trevor. Can you those things?

Tricia: I guess.

Mom: OK. I’m going to put down the first block so you can start building. Can you put the next two on top?

Tricia (starts building).

Mom: That’s great, Trish. I’m going to go now. I cannot wait to see what you build.

 

CORRECT

Tricia’s mom stays firm in her boundaries and gives Tricia her some tools to be able to meet the boundary.

First she gives Tricia a job to do so she can focus on that instead of her fear. Then she makes sure that Tricia is engaged in that task before she leaves.

 

 

How to Make In-the-Moment Parenting Work

 

Though Tricia’s mom used Calm, Connect, Correct, the “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If your child is afraid to try new things and you want to help them through their fear, remember:

 

Depositing into CALM

Tricia’s mom will not be able to stay calm if

a.) her own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low (if she feels like no one cares about HER needs) or

b.) she has the expectation that Tricia will go in to the center easily just because her mom wants her to

When she makes sure her own needs are met and sets realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, Tricia’s mom is more likely to be able to stay calm.

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm.

 

Depositing into CONNECT

Tricia’s mom will be able to connect if

a.) she respects that all behavior has a reason and

b.) she understands those reasons (in this case, that Tricia is nervous and needs some time to feel safe before she will go willingly to a new place)

When she becomes comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY, she will be able to connect more effectively.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively.

 

Depositing into CORRECT

Tricia’s mom will be able to correct behavior by offering a tool if

a.) She has demonstrated consistently in the past that Tricia’s fears matter to Tricia

b.) She has made enough deposits into Tricia’s emotional needs that setting a boundary doesn’t make Tricia feel even more out of control

When she demonstrates that she means what she says and when she makes deposits into Tricia’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, she will be able to correct Tricia’s behavior more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior.