During a recent listening session, I vented about my six-year-old daughter’s inability to get ready on her own. She would get her clothes on, but then she wouldn’t brush her teeth or put on socks, etc. unless someone was with her guiding the whole process. I was getting really irritated with her about this and not acting like the parent I wanted to be. Our mornings were a roller coaster of disconnecting power struggles and then reconnection attempts at drop off.
I unloaded my frustration to my listening partner, saying all the things I didn’t want to say to my daughter and telling her how frustrating this whole situation was to me. When the timer went off I still felt like there was more emotional charge there so I made a mental note to work on this more later. Maybe next week, I thought, I could actually come up with a plan to work this out.
The next morning I was reminded of what magic can happen even when I do just a small amount of work on an issue. As I was getting ready for work my daughter came in, still not dressed. I got down at her level and smiled warmly saying, “I’d really like it if you’d get dressed for the day.” She looked at me and said back, “Play puppy?” I said, “Okay, I’ll throw the balloon for you to fetch, then you go do one thing to get ready.” She gave me a puppy pant and nodded.
Getting ready for the day went smoothly as she fetched the balloon, then ran off to dress. Then she fetched the balloon again and went to brush her teeth. Fetch, get snack ready. Fetch, book bag packed. Fetch, socks on. The morning routine was easy for her with just a little playtime mixed in. And, I felt amazed that this high-stress time could shift so easily after some listening time for me.
We played this game only once more, and since then I am happy to say she has been getting ready without me having to “shadow” her through the process.