Welcome to my series on the 8 things kids need to hear. Last week, we talked about the first two: 1. I love you, and 2. I’m proud of you.
Here are the next two items on the list.
3. Tell me about it. When our son got in a fight at recess, when our daughter was riding in a car that hit another car, when our other son’s lacrosse ball knocked out the tail light of a neighbor’s car, they didn’t hesitate to tell us about it. Well, okay, maybe they did hesitate, but they came and told us before we found out some other way. They trusted us to listen without getting (too) upset. And if something needed to be made right, we went with them. “Tell me about it” means the same thing as “what happened?” but it conveys a different attitude. It says, “I want to listen to what you have to say. I want to hear your side of the story.” And that can take a lot of pressure off kids, especially when they know they’ve done something wrong. So take a deep breath, sit down, and say, “Tell me about it.” And then listen!
4. It doesn’t matter. So many things seem like mountains until time passes and we get a little distance from them. Then we realize they were molehills after all. As parents, we must learn to take the long view of things, whether it’s potty-training, making the child sleep in their own bed, or any number of school issues. It took me three kids but I finally learned to ask myself, Will she still want to do this when she’s sixteen? Will this matter when he’s 25? If the answer was yes, I knew I needed to deal with whatever behavior or issue was at hand. But if I answered no, I could relax and not make a big deal about it. So, when my five year old still wanted to sleep in our bedroom, I let her because I knew that would change sometime before she turned sixteen. Even the occasional bad grade took on less importance when I realized no employer would ask about it. Life tends to be much more relaxed when we take the long view and learn to distinguish between true mountains that must be conquered and molehills.
I hope you’ll come back next week for the next installment. In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know what parenting advice you’ve discovered by experience.