Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Day 89: What you Say is what you Get

 Made my own meme with one of Cesar's epic facial expressions
that just say it all

An interesting observation I made while walking with Cesar, is how I placed my words as a question to him would make a difference to how events would play out for us.
The first thing I noticed which would make things, well ‘difficult’, is that I was trying to be nice to him. This was because I was coming from a point of wanting to avoid conflict – or rather – wanting to avoid my own internal reactions when conflict would ensue; and thought that ‘being nice’ would make it easier to avoid this.


For instance, one of the things Cesar dreaded for the longest time was diaper changes, and it sometimes would turn out to be quite a mission to get it done. So if I would see that he needed a diaper change, I would put on a sweet voice and say ‘Shall we give you a diaper change?’, ‘Do you want a diaper change?’.

A rough translation of his behaviour into words would be something like this: F**k You.

Then I’d get all upset because we really need to change his diaper, and I mean, I ASKED SO NICELY!!!

We’d change his diaper and he’d get even more upset because now I am changing his diaper in spite of him saying No. I asked him a question, he said no but I do it anyway. So to him instead of being nice, I’m actually being pretty mean - the reverse of what I was aiming for.

So what I realised was that in my very demeanour and how I was placing my words, I was setting myself up to fail. I was wanting to be nice, so I was placing my words in a way where he had a choice:

“Do you want to have a diaper change?”
“Shall we change your diaper?”

These are Yes/No questions, and by placing my words as such, I was saying I was open to either a yes or a no. While all the while, there was actually no space for a debate on whether or not we should change is diaper, his diaper needed changing – period.

So I first addressed the cause as ‘fearing conflict’ within myself, realising that he is not always going to be okay with what it is we need to do, but that we need to do them anyway and that this does not need to influence who I am within that.
Then, I changed how I structured my words to him. If it’s not really a choice, then I don’t ask – I simply make a statement of what we’re going to do and why.

He’s not always happy with it and that’s okay. We’re getting done what we need to get done, and I get to improve my credibility, consistency and trustworthiness as a parent. I follow through on what I say, rather than asking him what he wants and then doing the opposite. When I ask a question, he learns that I am genuinely interested in the answer and that he has a real choice.

It’s certainly interesting to see how many dimensions are involved in such a tiny point as how you ask your child a question, and how this influences the entire make-up of the relationship you are busy building.

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