My daughter is three and she needs to learn a lot
Recently I noticed that in many potentially difficult situations the conflict with my daughter could be avoided, simply by giving information. When I get that feeling that right here and now she will not listen, I will explode and it will be so difficult to manage this small child, I sometimes remember to give her information
These are several examples.
I was laying on my bed because I was not feeling well. She started to complain and whine that I should go to her room, which seemed quite painful for me because of how I felt. I said “no” several times and gave other options what to do but she insisted on me going to her room. Only then (and earlier would be much better) I realized that she does not know the reason at all why I am acting like this. I explained to her that I cannot go to her room because I do not feel well and when I feel better, I will go to her room. It seems she understood immediately and did not complain anymore but instead started to play.
I like art galleries. Going to art galleries with children might seem as a race when you have to constantly chase your children who are running around without paying any attention to art masterpieces. Last time we were in Paris I saw “Water Lilies” by Monet for a few seconds because my daughter had a plan to run somewhere else. Then I realized that she probably does not even know how to behave in galleries and thinks that her running is fun for everybody, not only her. So I sat with her and explained that in galleries we look at paintings, we can create stories about them and we stay quiet, not running. Surprisingly next time in the gallery we were sitting in front of each painting while creating stories about them. I hope we keep doing this!
And the last example:
My daughter: “I want to go to the bath with my dress”.
Me: “Well, if you go to the water with your dress, it will become wet.”
It is all about trusting our children. Trusting that they need/want to learn and they will understand. Trusting that they will be able to make their mind as they need. “When children are given information, they can usually figure out for themselves what needs to be done”, writes A. Faber and E. Mazlish in their book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. In contrast, if I say this information and at the same time I am afraid that she will not listen, probably she will not.
Giving information is different from lecturing. When lecturing, we take a posture of a higher individual, the one who knows everything, who is telling the truth to a lower individual. Lecturing can become a lifelong habit (“I told you so…”). Instead, giving information comes from a point of view of equality and freedom. By giving her information I also suppose that she has a choice: your dress will become wet and you can choose what to do. We are equals, only this child needs this bit of information that is lacking. Lecturing usually is veeery long, with constant repetition and full of judgement and negative attitude. Giving information, instead, is usually short and more neutral.
No strategy will work in every situation. Giving information probably will not work when a child is already angry screaming and lost in her emotions.
- Faber and E. Mazlish (2012). How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.