Finding the kitchen floor covered in water, walls scribbled on in blue crayon, or your favorite shoes full of glue are not exactly the special moments of parenthood – or are they? Could these moments be special moments? Would you be interested in transforming those seemingly annoying, laborious, stressful situations into positive and even special moments?
Children are not meaning to cause trouble or mayhem- often they are just being curious and need some guidance. Working together, parents and children can find meaningful connections and learn so much about team work, life skills and how to navigate the world even in the face of “bad” moments.
If a glass gets knocked over, juice spills or milk overflows, a child can use a rag and dry it up. Perhaps the parent will help a bit, but a child as young as 18 months can appreciate the value of team work, partnership and the ability to do something for herself.
If you find markers on the wall, paint on bathroom counter, or crayon on the carpet, a warm soapy sponge and scrubbing and drying the mess together shows a child that there are solutions to problems, ways to fix “wrongs” which is such a valuable life skill.
“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” Chinese Proverb
When we involve our children in the process, they can learn that cleaning up is hard work, while at the same time realizing they are capable. Learning how to work together with a parent or sibling can enhance family harmony, sibling relationships and a child’s overall self confidence too.
The truth is, there are no magic formulas or one-size-fits-all solutions or any one thing that will guarantee that “bad behavior” will not happen again. Several different bodies of research* show that spanking and punishment will not lead to any long term results or ultimate compliance either. On the contrary, it actually shows that over time, punishments can have negative impacts on a child’s esteem, confidence and overall wellbeing.
This parenting thing is hard work and demanding compliance may make things easier at times, but as a parent do you want your child to grow into a compliant being or into someone with bright ideas, a thinker, a leader, someone with a passion for learning, understanding and exploring the world? Fostering cooperation and helping children learn like skills even amidst stressful situations is as special as parenting moments can get.
Have you had any special moments (i.e. paint on the walls or glue in your shoes) with your child recently? How did you handle it?
Peace & Be Well,