I could have gotten mad and tried to force her, telling her “You are going, no matter what.” But I know from experience that when I start doing that, it gets worse and escalates into a power struggle.
Instead, I took a deep breath and remembered the most important thing to me is that she and I stay connected; our relationship is really important and being CALM is a #1 priority for me. Well, maybe I had to take more than one deep breath on this particular morning!
So what did I do? First, I just noticed that she was having a hard time. I mentally stepped back from the scene, observing her fully communicating how she did not want to go, watching her drama as she sprawled out on the bed, not going to budge. I knew for sure that she was going to school, but also know that when she is struggling, that’s not a time for me to push, push, push.
The second I was calm and not in reactive mode, the air got a little lighter. I validated her feelings … “I totally know what you’re saying and agree that I don’t always want to get up and go either.” I paused, allowing her some silence and space to take in the fact that I understood.
Then I reminded her, “And we both know that once you get going, you’re fine.” I said it calm and easy, and almost funny using a little sense of humor.
She stopped her drama for a moment and said, “Okay, that’s true. But I still don’t want to go.” Then back into a little drama, saying that she needed some help – “Could you at least put my pants on for me?” It was pretty funny to me, since she never asks for help getting dressed! I joked with her, helping her with her clothes and asking what else I could help with, being fun and playful in my tone.
I thought we were clear for takeoff, but then there she was, on the floor again with the drama! So I encouraged her …“Honey, if you need to, why don’t you go over there and scream it (I don’t want to go to school!), five times really loud.” She did; it lasted only 2 times and then she was done.
I was really clear that we were going. She had to be there at 8:00, and I had a meeting at the school at 9:00. Again, I was unwavering – if I am on the fence, she is also on the fence, and then it’s almost impossible to get going!
So then I asked for her help – please work with me so we can get there on time. Her demeanor softened. She got herself together and ready to go.
Okay, it’s 7:50 am, and it is crunch time! We are out the door. She was happy and regulated; I was happy and regulated.
You know, it may sound like this took hours, but it really was only about 30 minutes. I was still able to shower, make breakfast, make her lunch. Okay, so the mascara had to go on in the car at the stoplight.
But it was worth the extra few minutes to not fight and have both of us start our day feeling disconnected. I know without a doubt that it would have taken longer and been so exhausting if I would have tried to force her through yelling, demanding, and throwing out consequences that I know would be hard to keep.
How did it all work out? As she got out of the car to walk into school, she kissed me goodbye and cheerfully said “Have a good day, mom!”
P.S. There is no “perfect way” to parent that can make this happen. And, there’s no amount of pushing, pleading, bribing, forcing, or threatening that will get me this outcome, either. Bottom line, I have to be authentically confident, clear, and calm. It’s not always easy to do, and that’s where the WAVE™ comes in. Just a great foundational tool I can count on to help me through these kinds of challenges!
“It takes longer to argue or force than it does to connect with your child and find an empowered resolution.”
Kim Griffith, Parent Empowerment Coach