So we’re talking about perspective this week.
Particularly, shifting our own attitudes when things aren’t going our way.
Gee, does this sound like something our children can use a little help with at times?
One of our family rules is BE FLEXIBLE.
Now, I realize this is a big stretch for 6-year-olds but I can honestly say that they are getting it. Slowly.
We use a lot of character development words around our house. We often use to describe them based on the list of character traits they are learning about in their school. Risk takers. Communicators. Thinkers. Balanced. Caring. I won’t bother to list all of them.
Oddly, being flexible isn’t on the list but the school does work with the children on not being perfect. It’s also addressed a bit under being a risk taker.
And, for those who followed my heartbreaking story … this is how I was easily able to use the response that I did.
Shifting our attitude is important because one of our daughters has already set her marks on perfection.
She likes things the way she likes them. And, it can be a downright struggle if she doesn’t get it. She’s not a mean child but she’s stubborn. As in if she can’t find the perfect after school outfit to wear she’ll cry about it until dinner. For an hour. Or more depending on the day. Naturally, she’s better when she’s not hungry or tired but the point is that perfection is her absolute hangup.
So, being flexible is a skill we have to model and demonstrate. Shifting our attitudes when things don’t go the way we want them to is the best way to teach children to handle challenges.
Here’s a few tools we’re using to raise flexible children:
Re-frame. By asking questions, we can help a child re-frame their challenge. For example: Your child says she raises her hand but the teacher never, ever, ever calls on her. We ask questions such as are other children trying to answer the question, how often do you raise your hand and do you think the teacher is trying to make it so everyone gets a turn?
Feel the emotions. I’m still learning to do this myself, by the way. You know, feel anger when angry. Feel sadness when sad. Feel disappointment when I’ve been disappointed. These are all perfect human emotions. We must remember to tell children it’s OK to feel these emotions.
Coach them. Like everything with parenting, the more you discuss a situation from all angles, the easier it is for a child to grasp the concept. They are still learning. Their brains are still not fully developed and won’t be for many years to come. We must show them the way. We must help them understand the big picture.
Make mistakes. We love mistakes at our house so long as we know they tried their absolute best. That’s it. Try your best. There are many outfits that do not match. There are many art projects that aren’t as we wanted them to be. But that’s what makes us human.
Perspective. In the grand scheme of life is this a big problem or a small problem? We do a lot of big picture perspective to help a child shift their attitude around. It works.
Point out their flexibility. Naturally, if you want your child to appreciate being bendy and flexible, you have to point it out to them. Once you start doing that and they start feeling proud of their efforts, they become even more flexible. Saying things like I love how you compromised with your sister or I saw how you wanted those polka dotted socks but were willing to take the stripes.
How about you? Do you discuss being flexible and shifting attitudes in your family? I suspect it’s not addressed that often and perhaps we’d all be better adults if we learned this a little earlier on as children. I’d love to hear your own personal stories on this topic. Please share!