One morning, my 3-year-old said, “I am my brother, not me,” while I was busy getting my older son ready for school. Ah, a sign of a storm brewing, I thought.
I squatted at his level to acknowledge him, but could not stop for more than a short minute.
Then, my younger son started complaining, “I don’t want the waffle cut in half!” Ah, a louder signal. I still couldn't pay attention to him, though I did make eye contact with him. I was still busy with my older son.
Then I told him that he needed to change out of his pajamas. He said, “I don’t want to change! I want a Batman costume.” However, he wouldn’t change into the Batman costume which I handed to him. He threw that away. Then, he sat in front of the clothes drawer, unable to make up his mind what to wear.
He was bouncing around. A sure sign of disconnection, I thought.
I was busy packing my older son's lunch, and didn't have the time and attention to Staylisten for more than a couple of minutes.
So, when my older son went off to school, I offered my younger son Special Time for half an hour. First, he disappeared for a minute as he sometimes does during Special Time and I begged, “Please don’t go! Please come back!”
Then he smiled, waved good-bye and left the room. In a minute, he came back.
Then we covered ourselves under a blanket and played with flashlights. Lots of laughter.That turned into a physical play. He wanted to be up side down. So I held his feet and lifted him up. A head stand. He wanted me to tumble over too. More laughter. When the time was up, he went and changed his clothes before I even noticed.
And then he ate the same waffle he had rejected earlier because I had cut it in half. I said, just to be sure, “I am sorry I cut it in a way you didn’t like. How is it?”
He was busy eating. “Good!” he said.
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:
Get help getting out in the mornings with 15 Tips For Getting Out Of The House With Kids
Find out how Special Time can turn your day around. Here's a free checklist on what to do.
Read about why crying can be helpful for your child Listen Launch Post: Staylistening How Does Crying Help You and Your Child?