My 6 year old daughter and I go swimming once a week together. She normally loves this time and looks forward to it, but one weekend she didn’t want to go at all. As it was our last session for a while, I encouraged her to go, but she made me insist that we would come out quickly, rather than being one of the last ones out, as we usually are. I agreed and off we went.
In the pool, her reluctant mood lingered. She kept reminding me that we were not staying long. She didn’t want to do much, she clung to me, and she didn’t want to play or even swim much.
At one point, I put her on my back, telling her that I would swim for her instead. She enjoyed this game. Then she insisted I go on HER back—and so I did, glad to be so lightweight in the water.
Once she was in this more powerful role, things began to change! She started swimming, but then by mistake knocked me with her arm. I playfully pretended to be knocked back, said “Ow!” loudly, and made a big show of it, with a goofy grin on my face to show that I wasn’t really hurt. She started laughing and then made me get on her back again, so she could knock me off once more.
After just a few minutes of this play, she turned to me and said, “Actually, we can stay for the whole time.” And that was that! Her mood had turned through a few minutes of laughter, with me playing the bumbly role and her playing the powerful one. She enjoyed the rest of our swim time that day.
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:
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