In my post yesterday, I talked about “dropping the rope” when it comes to conflict with your child.
In case you’re thinking, “that’s all well and good but exactly how do I do that when I am already annoyed,” I am here to help!
Step one is just noticing that you are triggered. From a place of curiosity or compassion.
“Oh wow, I am feeling really stressed about the fact that my three-year-old is refusing to put on his shoes.”
Step two, take a step back and have compassion for yourself. Lay your hands on your chest and take three deep breaths (in through the nose, out through pursed lips, like you’re blowing out through a straw), and AGREE with yourself.
“It makes so much sense that I am feeling stressed out right now. The pediatrician appointment is in 30 minutes and I’m not sure how long parking will take. Anybody would be feeling stressed right now.”
Breathe some more until you feel your heart rate and breathing slow. This can be as quick as just 30 seconds. It doesn’t need to be a big project.
Once your heart rate and breathing have slowed, get quiet. Create a boundary that doesn’t require your child to do anything.
Drop to the floor, lower your voice, and say calmly, “Hey, babe, it’s time to go to the doctor now and it looks like you need help putting on your shoes so I am going to help you.”
Then put on the damn shoes for him, regardless of his reaction. This isn’t a punishment. You aren’t being mean by putting on his shoes. You are helping him because he has shown you he wasn’t capable of doing it himself in that moment. (Do NOT offer one more chance first. Again, this isn’t a punishment!) Maybe 10 minutes from now, he would be able to do it himself, but not in this moment. That’s okay! It’s not a judgement on either you or him.
Then take him by the hand and leave. Without a lecture. Staying very, very calm and kind to both of you.
I promise that helping more with skills he “should” be able to do will not make him more dependent in the long run. Quite the opposite, in fact. Skills don’t develop evenly. We keep reading to our kids even after they can read themselves. They will go off to college able to put their own shoes on every single time.
Be kind to both of you.
That’s the way to drop the rope.
I’d love to help you experience this easily. Schedule a free life coaching session (scroll down past sleep to life coaching) and experience the transformation in just one hour.
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Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.