I talked earlier about being slow to speak and quick to hear as a part of being slow to anger. And here about encouraging conversation instead of lecturing.
I’ve been thinking lately that I need to be slow to speak for another reason: I’m interfering with my children’s ability to solve their problems.
Typically, I hear a scream from a child, and my reaction is to come investigate immediately. After all, the screamer is not solving a problem correctly, and there is undoubtedly an instigator who has also done something wrong. They need correction! My suspicions are confirmed if I wait a second, because then I hear “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Now I know something happened, and I want to know what it was.
I am noticing that, if I can restrain myself, often (though not always), the screamer and teaser resolve their problem without my even coming in the room. I’m wondering whether delaying my response will help the screamer to deal with the problem on her own. Maybe she’ll use her scream to effect change instead of to alert mom for help, but I do see that as progress. We have further to go, but I’m interested to think that being quick to hear and slow to speak has value in this context as well. For now, I’ve been ignoring the fight, and waiting to see how they resolve the issue. Isn’t that what I am working towards?
One thing I do, since my youngest is still pretty young (3) and will result to hitting and hurting her sister, is say, “Do you need me or can you work it out?” I would say we get about 50/50 one response or the other. They know that often, if I come the compromise will not be what they want, so they are learning to work it out. Sometimes, however, they do need Mom, and my oldest (5) is able to tell me that.
My screamer is almost always the youngest, and I do not want her to learn that screaming means mom comes and stops her sister, because sometimes she will scream when there is no good reason.
Just two days ago they were playing with Duplos and the little one started screaming. I asked if they needed me and the oldest was able to say, “M is screaming at her legos because they keep falling.” So, instead of me jumping to the conclusion that big sis was being bossy or mean (which I normally would have concluded) i was able to help the little one with her problem and they continued playing peacefully for a while. I am learning 🙂
Good thoughts, Nicole. Sounds like you’re ahead of me!