Friday, February 19, 2010

One Step Forward, One Step Back

When I told my kids last night that bedtime would be at 7:45 p.m. instead of 8, I received two very different reactions. Sophie, exhausted from a weekend of sleepover dates, barely nodded as she trudged up to her bunk bed. Jacob, similarly wiped out, had enough energy left to do battle. When he started to huff, stomp and get teary, I reminded him that all of these behaviors were a signs of a tired kid. With an audible "harumph!" (which I never believed was a real expression until I heard him say it), he plopped himself on his bed with his arms crossed. Michael and I went downstairs, expecting....something.

We were surprised when Jacob came downstairs twenty minutes later and handed me a note. In the note, he wrote, "I don't want to be treated like a baby. I want to pick out my own clothes. I want a new bedtime. And I want a cell phone." At the bottom of the note, he drew a skull and cross-bones to let us knew that he meant business, and that we were putting our very lives at risk by not taking him seriously.

Here's what worked in Jacob's approach:
  • Taking time to cool off
  • Putting his thoughts into writing rather than crying, yelling or stomping
  • Making "I" statements (e.g. "I want..." rather than "You need to...")
Here's what didn't:
  • Laundry-bagging (listing multiple concerns at once, rather than the most timely and relevant one)
  • Red herrings (that cell phone is NOT GONNA HAPPEN and he knew that!)
  • Threats (his pirate scare tactics won't work on land or at sea)
So the next time you're steaming mad, what will you do to make sure your message is relevant AND respectful?

To your Success without the Tsuris,

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