Considering a Situation from a Parent’s Perspective

(How expectations prevent us from staying calm)

 

Mom: I wasn’t asking for much. I just asked my son Timothy to put on his clothes while I finished getting ready in my room. I know he’s physically able to put on his clothes… he’s done it many times before.

But when I came back to his room he had his pants on but he was playing with his legos! I was so upset! He knows that he loses play time if he doesn’t get ready on time! I just don’t understand why he can’t do one simple thing…

 

Considering the Same Situation from a Child’s Perspective

 

Timothy: I know Mom asked me to get dressed, and I started to. I know we have to get to school, and I don’t like when she rushes me because we are running late.  But then I saw my lego set and I remembered I hadn’t finished one part of it last night.

I thought I could finish that one part and then go right back to getting dressed, but I forgot to go back to getting dressed. And then she came in and got mad at me! I just forgot!

 

 

How It Usually Goes (In Our Heads)

When We Lose Our Calm

 

Scenario: Timothy’s mom needs to finish getting herself ready, so she asks Timothy to get dressed while she runs to her room. She expects Timothy to be ready when she gets back in the room.

 

Mom (thinks): Oh no! We’re running late! I can’t believe he didn’t get dressed! He KNOWS we have to get dressed!

Mom (says to Timothy): Timothy, why aren’t you DRESSED?

 

Timothy: I tried but I couldn’t.

 

Mom (thinks): Of course he could! I’ve seen him get dressed before!

Mom (says to Timothy): Yes you can! You’ve done it before!

 

Timothy: But you’re here when I do.

 

Mom (thinks): I can’t just leave him for 5 minutes? I need to be here all the time? I’ll never get myself AND Timothy ready plus get his sister fed….

Mom (says to Timothy): You have GOT to learn to do this on your own, Timothy. Don’t act like such a baby.

 

Timothy (starts crying and then won’t go downstairs for breakfast, which slows them down more).

 

What It Looks Like (In Our Heads)

When We Set Expectations To Stay Calm

Scenario: Timothy’s mom needs to finish getting herself ready, so she asks Timothy to get dressed while she runs to her room. She expects Timothy to be ready when she gets back in the room.

 

Mom (thinks): Oh no! We’re running late! I can’t believe he didn’t get dressed! He KNOWS we have to get dressed!

Mom (says to Timothy): Timothy, why aren’t you DRESSED?

 

Timothy: I tried but I couldn’t.

 

Mom (thinks): He couldn’t? Hmm, why not? Ohhh, right, he gets distracted by anything that’s more engaging than what he’s doing. And he still needs a way to help him stay on track. 

Mom (says to Timothy, more calmly):Why, what happened?

 

Timothy: I started doing the legos.

 

Mom (thinks): Yup, that makes sense. The legos are more interesting and he got distracted.

Mom (says to Timothy): I get that. They are more exciting than getting dressed.

 

Timothy: Yeah.

 

Mom (thinks): OK. I’ve got to be realistic. He WILL be distracted. But he can’t play legos now…. I KNOW there’s a solution here.

Mom (says to Timothy): You needed to get dressed and I needed to get dressed. I be here with you the whole time. So what can we do? 

 

Timothy: I don’t know.

 

Mom (thinks): He probably doesn’t know a solution. I’ll help him find one. We’ll figure this out.

(At this point, Mom has stayed calm and since neither she nor Timothy are in Yuck, they can work together to find a solution.)

{Note: One solution is to teach Timothy how to engage himself in an activity to prevent distractions. For suggestions, see the “How to Keep Kids Engaged” document in the Resources section.}

 

 

How to Make Sure You Can

Re-Set Your Expectations In the Moment

 

Whether or not you’re in Yuck is going to make all of the difference in whether you can re-set your expectations in the moment.

You will be able to do this MUCH more easily when you have made proactive deposits into your CALM.

This means that:

your biological and emotional needs are met and

you have set realistic expectations about situations that regularly frustrate you.

(See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn more about how to make these proactive deposits.)