My husband, son and I wanted to go to a well-known chicken restaurant, and although I know it’s not my daughter’s favourite, I also know she does eat chicken.
In the past, I might have changed my preference, worried about how my daughter would react, or I would have tried to convince and persuade her, or told her off.
But I remind myself that my child doesn’t have to like or agree with my preference, I’m in charge of my boundary, and my child is in charge of finding a solution within my boundary.
It’s super hard to hold boundaries, if when you hear other’s emotions or wants and you think that you’re responsible or need to fix it.
So, what did I do?
I went immediately into validating her preferences. Because when a child feels heard, they don’t have to keep communicating or escalating their behaviour to prove to you how much they don’t like or don’t want something. – You will see a massive de-escalation in behaviour.
This comes from the first premise: Everything children do and say is a communication, and children must continue to communicate until they are heard.
I used, Say What You See®: “It’s the last place you’d chose to eat! Chicken isn’t your favourite. You’re sure there’s nothing you’ll want to eat! That sucks!”
You know how differently that situation could have gone if I started saying: “You can’t always have it your way, you’re just being difficult, it’s a treat to eat out, all you do is complain, stop being so ungrateful.” and all the typical things we’re told to say and do to get our kids to listen and behave.
There would have been resentment and judgments. Feelings of guilt and shame. It would have felt me against her. Which fuels more not listening and cooperating. (Because, children tend to not listen to people who don’t understand them.)
When we finally made it to the restaurant, after a short burst of protest. My daughter chose something she liked off the menu and we all had a great time.
The big takeaway here is that you’ll have a much calmer and simpler time holding your boundaries, when you let go of controlling how your child feels about it.
When we hold boundaries without trying to change our child’s opinion or try and make them like something they’re sure they don’t, or use guilt or shame to change their behaviour we give them the space they need to adapt. Validation and connection helps them move on and find solutions within our boundaries.
Have you given Say What You See® a go yet? What was your child’s reaction, did it help the move on to find solutions?