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#61 of 148 Old 06-27-2011, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 ...LATER, after he'd calmed down, we could talk it out: "You didnt' want to leave the park today, did you?   But you know what?  You were happy when we got home and you saw we could eat dinner, right?   Well, we had to leave the park in order to get dinner!"


We did so, so much of this and it really "worked" so well for my DC and our family.  Probably from about verbal age until about 4 DC and I had evening talks.  I guess cosleeping really lead to the talks at night.  When DC got older she was no longer in our bed and we had moved to an area where we were doing lots of driving (not lots by US standards but what felt like a lot to me).  I found the car to be an ideal spot for conversations.  Even at 9 we still talk through a lot of stuff while we're in the car.  

 

I don't think treating your child like you treat your partner is a really good analogy in general but when it comes to trying to reason during an argument I think it works pretty well.  Most of the people I know are not good thinkers, compromisers or empathisers when they're in the middle of an argument.  We don't generally expect adults to be at their best when they're upset and frustrated.  Why would we expect something from a child what we don't expect from an adult?  

 

So, yes, I like the idea of figuring your best way to avoid disappointment (like MW suggested in her response), then find the best way to handle a situation once it gets out of hand...and then talk it through LATER once everyone is calm.  I LOVE the idea of talking a problem out later with a child and asking THEM for suggestions on how the situation could have been made better.  I used to ask my DC this all the time.  90% of the time she says I handled it fine but could have been more strict!  Funny little children.  ;-)  

 


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#62 of 148 Old 06-27-2011, 10:42 AM
 
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Honestly, part of his issue was that he just wasn't ready for "if-then" or "First-next" statements when we started usign them because "GD experts" said we should.   "Just explain that he has to hold your hand or he has to be carried," people would say.  "Just tell him he has to leave the park so that you can go home to eat dinner," they say.  Well, #1 was the kid screaming "WANT DINNER!  NO WANT TO LEAVE PARK!  WANT DINNER NOW!"  and all the "Honey, there is no dinner at the park.  We have to leave the park to get dinner.  Dinner is at home, and we have to go home from the park to get dinner," made any difference.  

 

Eventually, he grew into being able to process those statements.  But I think trying to use those statements too much when he wasn't developmentally ready for them led to a lot of frustration on both our parts.   I realized that if I just said "We are leaving the park now,"  he'd pitch a fit, but it was an easier fit than if I tried to cajole and reason and reason and cajole and then make a game and then give choices and then make a different game..... "Honey, It's time to go home now."  Pick him up, carry him to the car.  Console him with "We have to go home to get dinner," and then, LATER, after he'd calmed down, we could talk it out: "You didnt' want to leave the park today, did you?   But you know what?  You were happy when we got home and you saw we could eat dinner, right?   Well, we had to leave the park in order to get dinner!"




There were options to all of these. You could have brought food with you. Then dinner would be at the park. You could not worry about getting home for dinner at a specific time. You could have empathized with him in the moment like you did after he had calmed down without the "buts" and/or continuing to tell him that you still had to go. I'm not saying you should have done any of those things, but they were/are options.


Of course we could have brought dinner.  But we didn't, because there was no indication that he'd freak out about leaving hte park for dinner.  (We also had to pick up Daddy at work on the way home for dinner.  We have one car.  If Daddy wants to eat, we still need to leave the park.  Other options could include "Okay, daddy doesn't get to eat tonight," but I don't think that's very consensual either).  

 

The idea of skipping dinner to accommodate the not wanting to leave the park thing would have been worse.  because he wanted dinner.  That was the thing - he wanted dinner very much.  He just did not understand the If-then, first-next of how we were going to get to dinner.  Making him get hungrier and more upset while he struggled with a concept he was unable to deal with would have been cruel and made matters worse.

 

(No, he did not actually want to eat dinner at the park, either.   And I have a kajillion other examples that show that it wasn't just park-dinner.  It was an overarching issue with Order of Operations.  He'd want to go to the playground but not leave the  house.  He'd want to wear his red shirt but not take off his PJs (or put the shirt over the PJs).  He'd want me to read to him, but not want me to hold the book so I could see the words.)

 

Once you're in a circumstance (at the park with no dinner), suggestions like that don't really fix the matter at hand.  Offering to eat dinner at the park would still have required we get in the car, go get inner, and bring it back to the park.   It was not an option I could have offered.   Eating at the park was not an option, because


This is where.  this "there is always a solution" tends to break down, for me. .  It seems to require magic solutions, like I needed to predict that my child would melt down over simultaneous and mutually exclusive goals and bring everything I'd need to make those goals no longer mutually exclusive.   And the "Oh, here's a solution!!!" gets wilder and wilder.  It goes from "You should have known to have the food with you!"  to "You could have called for takeout and had it delivered to the park!   Daddy could have taken a cab to the park to join you!"  (Yes, some of that might be true, but it would have blown our budget for the month AND would have taken over an hour to get both food and daddy on site.)

 

The "but" language was actually key for my DS.   It helped him make the connection between "I was really disappointed -- but I survived that, and in the end I did get something I wanted."  And eventually, we did reach the point where DS could understand that two things were mutually exclusive and could not be done at the same time, and he'd initiate things like "Can I have two more slides, and then we'll go get daddy?"   Or even (and we did this) "Could we invite Friend X who works with Daddy to a picnic, and Daddy could get a ride with Friend X?"    But he needed the developmental ability to hold those different ideas and goals in his mind and understand which of them could be done together and which could not be done together.  And expecting him to use those skills before he developed them, or expecting him to develop those skills without time and practice really would have been unfair to him.

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#63 of 148 Old 06-27-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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This is where.  this "there is always a solution" tends to break down, for me. .  It seems to require magic solutions, like I needed to predict that my child would melt down over simultaneous and mutually exclusive goals and bring everything I'd need to make those goals no longer mutually exclusive.   And the "Oh, here's a solution!!!" gets wilder and wilder.  It goes from "You should have known to have the food with you!"  to "You could have called for takeout and had it delivered to the park!   Daddy could have taken a cab to the park to join you!"  (Yes, some of that might be true, but it would have blown our budget for the month AND would have taken over an hour to get both food and daddy on site.)

Well, the fact is that all of these are options. It doesn't mean you have to or should do any of these but you are choosing not to. That's really hard for a lot of people to grasp. You have the power and your child really has none. Sometimes it's necessary for us parents to use that power but many times it's us really just making a choice that is easier or more convenient or that makes more sense to us. Again, I'm not saying that's wrong. I'm just saying that is how it is, especially from the child's POV.

Maybe part of the problem is that you are searching for a solution to stop your child from having a meltdown. That's not really the objective. The objective is to let the child know his feelings do matter. In the Naomi Aldort book, she addresses the fact that empathizing in the moment may actually cause the child to escalate the meltdown. It works the same way with adults a lot of times. Most adults have never really been purely empathized with so when they are it's like opening the floodgates.

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#64 of 148 Old 06-27-2011, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe part of the problem is that you are searching for a solution to stop your child from having a meltdown. That's not really the objective. The objective is to let the child know his feelings do matter. In the Naomi Aldort book, she addresses the fact that empathizing in the moment may actually cause the child to escalate the meltdown. It works the same way with adults a lot of times. Most adults have never really been purely empathized with so when they are it's like opening the floodgates.


I didn't get the impression that Savithny was trying to prevent a melt down at all nor did I get the impression that she wasn't being empathetic.  

 


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#65 of 148 Old 06-27-2011, 12:41 PM
 
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Thank you.  Both of those things are, in fact, true.   I empathize deeply with my kid (in part because he's the one most like me in many ways).   Preventing meltdowns was impossible, and his feelings were always acknowledged.  

 

The fact is that many "solutions" offered by CL or TCS are simply impractical for daily living, or for anyone with a budget.    Acheiving a total consensuality (which TCS defines at one point as everyone in the family, whatever their age, agreeing that the chosen action is the one they prefer over all other actions, rather than just the one they think sucks the least, is not always going to be possible. 


And its especially not going to be possible in a system that ignores some basic facts about child development, and that assumes that children have exactly the same  reasoning capacity and perceptions as adults do.

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#66 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 01:49 AM
 
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I don't want my kids to be happy all the time, I want them to feel capable of handling whatever life throws at them. That means being disappointed sometimes, so they can learn how to handle disappointment and not be afraid of it, etc. It doesn't mean I'm going to MAKE them disappointed with arbitrary rules and boundaries, though.

People have to deal with enough disappointment and unhappiness from the outside world. They don't need more arbitrarily heaped on them at home, to toughen them up or whatever.

I don't think that means it's impossible to be happy all the time. If you can achieve that zen state of not having any attachments to anything, then nothing will cause disappointment. It is what it is and it doesn't affect your mood. I've never been there but there are people who claim to be.

We unschool, too, by the way.


I'm not talking about arbitrarily heaping disappointment and unhappiness on my kids to toughen them up.  I'm talking about not walking on eggshells for fear they'll be disappointed at some point. Anticipating needs is different from catering to every whim.  Life happens, and sometimes we don't have all the options available to us, or the options we would prefer are not going to work for the people we're with.  In those situations, which pop up quite often, I'm finding the best route is to reassure DS that I understand he is upset, explain the situation the best I can, and fully trust (and let him know that I fully trust) that he can handle the disappointment he's feeling.

 

I don't think happy all the time is a reasonable or even desirable goal.  I think attachment to some things is good, and disappointment is part of being human.  Guess I'd be an imperfect Buddhist.

 


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#67 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 07:26 AM
 
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I'm not talking about arbitrarily heaping disappointment and unhappiness on my kids to toughen them up.  I'm talking about not walking on eggshells for fear they'll be disappointed at some point. Anticipating needs is different from catering to every whim.  Life happens, and sometimes we don't have all the options available to us, or the options we would prefer are not going to work for the people we're with.  In those situations, which pop up quite often, I'm finding the best route is to reassure DS that I understand he is upset, explain the situation the best I can, and fully trust (and let him know that I fully trust) that he can handle the disappointment he's feeling.

 

I don't think happy all the time is a reasonable or even desirable goal.  I think attachment to some things is good, and disappointment is part of being human.  Guess I'd be an imperfect Buddhist.

 


I got what you were saying and was agreeing with you about the arbitrary rules and such.

The happiness thing was just another POV I wanted to put out there. There are people who claim to be happy all the time because they don't let the disappointments of life negatively affect them. They know disappointments happen and understand that they are not the end of the world. Like I said, I've never been there but there are people who say it can be done. Maybe it depends on how you define being happy. Maybe it's more a state of being content or being ok with what is. shrug.gif

I haven't found a way to get CL to work all the time with more than 2 people, either. I do tend to concede to my children more because I usually realize in the course of discussions with them that my position isn't really that important and because regardless of how I like to look at it, ultimately, I have all the power in the situation and my children do not. So, I would be the person who might order pizza and have it delivered to the park if I hadn't thought to bring food or I would call my dh and ask him to get a ride and pick up dinner on the way to meeting us. I wouldn't tell my dh he gets no dinner but, as an adult, he's certainly more capable of fending for himself than my children are. A lot of it depends on what each person is comfortable with. I'm more comfortable with going along with what my children want than my dh is. He has a harder time not seeing it as spoiling them.

We're having a problem with our 4yo and the new kittens we got. He won't leave them alone. He's very high energy and too rough without realizing it. He grabs them and forcibly holds them and then cries when they run away from him. We have tried explaining to him how to be gentle with the and that they will eventually come to him if he's calm and relaxed and waits and lets them go when they want to go. We have modeled how we are gentle. He doesn't get it. Every day it's the same thing. I have to physically restrain him fro grabbing the kittens sometimes. He gets hurt and feels left out because he can't hold the kittens and everyone else can but I don't know what else to do. I can't let him hurt the kittens as part of the process of learning.

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#68 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 07:30 AM
 
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The happiness thing was just another POV I wanted to put out there. There are people who claim to be happy all the time because they don't let the disappointments of life negatively affect them. They know disappointments happen and understand that they are not the end of the world. Like I said, I've never been there but there are people who say it can be done. Maybe it depends on how you define being happy. Maybe it's more a state of being content or being ok with what is. shrug.gif

I'm thinking people who have this kind of happiness or contentment have it because they learned through being disappointed when they were children. People aren't born like that.
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#69 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 08:20 AM
 
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The happiness thing was just another POV I wanted to put out there. There are people who claim to be happy all the time because they don't let the disappointments of life negatively affect them. They know disappointments happen and understand that they are not the end of the world. Like I said, I've never been there but there are people who say it can be done. Maybe it depends on how you define being happy. Maybe it's more a state of being content or being ok with what is. shrug.gif

I'm thinking people who have this kind of happiness or contentment have it because they learned through being disappointed when they were children. People aren't born like that.

I'm sure they had disappointments in their lives. Everyone does. The thing is that they either learned or were treated in way that allowed them to lot let the disappointments affect them. I'm not saying that children would automatically be like that. I'm saying that maybe it's possible for us to care for our children in a way that they can and will feel that way as they get older.

I do agree that it's impossible to have a life without disappointment but I don't know that it's impossible to be happy in spite of those disappointments. Studies have shown over and over that our moods are affected my our thoughts much more than our thoughts being affected by our moods. Disappointments can be easier or harder to handle depending on how we think about them.

I can think about my dh being deployed as the most horrible thing and make myself miserable the entire time he is gone. Or I can think about it as just a part of our life and understand that it's something that we have both agreed to live with and look at the positives surrounding it, like the fact that he gets paid quite a bit more money. Then I can be grateful for what he's doing for our family and it becomes a good thing. I'm not always perfect at that but I do my best not to entertain those negative thoughts when they come into my head and try to change my thinking around to the positive. It helps. I had to learn that as an adult but no one ever took the time to help me learn that as a child. Maybe there are things I can do to help my children learn how to do that now. KWIM?

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#70 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not talking about arbitrarily heaping disappointment and unhappiness on my kids to toughen them up.  I'm talking about not walking on eggshells for fear they'll be disappointed at some point. Anticipating needs is different from catering to every whim. 

 

Agreed!  On the previous point: whether we, as parents, can create hardships to "toughen-up" our kids. I actually thought of this a wile back.  I probably even posted about it on MDC many moons ago.  When DC was from about 1-4 we lived in SUCH a child friendly world and DC truly had a blissful life.  I actually began to worry that she would suffer from a lack of normal childhood challenges (similar to the ones I had that I felt helped make me the person I am today).  Of course I knew that it was not my role as a parent to create hardship for my child but it was something I thought about back in the day.  

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I'm thinking people who have this kind of happiness or contentment have it because they learned through being disappointed when they were children. People aren't born like that.


I am one of those people.  I'm not sure where it comes from but I'm sure its from many, many things.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was in part a genetic thing.  I also think luck in life has a lot to do with it.  Being raise well too.  But, yea, I imagine it does come in part from having a healthy dose of disappointment as a child and learning to overcome and work through challenges.  

 

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I do tend to concede to my children more because I usually realize in the course of discussions with them that my position isn't really that important and because regardless of how I like to look at it, ultimately, I have all the power in the situation and my children do not. 


We are not so focused on the issue of power but I have needed to check myself on and off through my child's life to be sure I am not in a rut of knee jerk "no's".  Sometimes I am just in this space of feeling like I don't want to do what DC wants (usually when I am feeling bombarded by requests...aka "the gimmies").  DC is almost 10 and we're really trying to work on requests that are "timely" and "thought through".  I am working on really, really considering the answer before I give it.  DC is then also working on seriously considered and judicious requests for me to reconsider.  Ah...summer!  :-)   

 

Another thing I'm trying to get DC to become more aware of is how much I want her to be happy.  I don't think she is all that aware of how much I want that for her and how much I absolutely hate for her to be disappointed.  As she gets older I will be expecting her to be aware of her own power when it comes to this issue (perhaps this is why I don't feel especially powerful as a parent).    My extended family has a culture of mother as giver and it becomes important for daughters and sons to be sure they are asking appropriate things from their mom.  Of course, this is an issue for older children as the expectation would not be developmentally appropriate for a child still in the self-centered stage of life.  

 

 

 


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#71 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do agree that it's impossible to have a life without disappointment but I don't know that it's impossible to be happy in spite of those disappointments. Studies have shown over and over that our moods are affected my our thoughts much more than our thoughts being affected by our moods. Disappointments can be easier or harder to handle depending on how we think about them.
 

We cross posted but I was actually going to bring up the issue of metacognition in my last post.  I absolutely think that happiness can be maintained and perhaps even increased/enhanced by one's thought process.  I would argue, though, that this generally only works for people with a relatively happy disposition to begin with.  


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#72 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 01:17 PM
 
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I'm dealing with the "gimmies" with my 7yo and trying to find a balance between doing what I can for him and taking care of myself at the same time. It's been especially difficult lately with me being pregnant and anemic and my dh being gone for so long. There are many, many times when I just tell him, "no," because I am not up to it. I haven't found a better way yet and he doesn't quite understand, at least not when he's in the moment of wanting something. I do try to do more for him when I do feel better. I am concerned how things are going to be once the baby comes because I will have to spend so much of my time and energy taking care of the baby.
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I would argue, though, that this generally only works for people with a relatively happy disposition to begin with.

I have to disagree with this. I am definitely not one of those people that has a relatively happy disposition. I have had trouble with clinical depression since I was at least 15 years old. The one thing that has really helped me handle it is controlling my own thinking. This idea wasn't introduced to me until I was in my 30s but once it was I couldn't believe how well it works. I can now recognize when I'm getting into a depressive funk and consciously change my thinking, which makes a huge difference in how I feel.

I've been thinking about how I think this is probably achieved in childhood. I think it has a lot to do with feeling unconditionally loved within your family and being empathized with. If one knows they are loved no matter what and understands that disappointments happen to everyone, I think they are more likely to be able to roll with the punches, so to speak. I remember reading about studies way back when that showed that children who were more attached and loved and treated nicely and with respect in the home were better able to handle the toughness of the outside world vs. children who came from families that believed they had to be tough with their kids to prepare them for the harsh, cruel world.

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#73 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by MarineWife View PostI am concerned how things are going to be once the baby comes because I will have to spend so much of my time and energy taking care of the baby.
 

 

I hope it goes well.  When I think back to the time where I was worried that my DC had a "too blissed out childhood" a big part of that was that she was as singleton.  I thought the stress of a younger sibling would have been good for her.  I know that age 7 is way different from age 9 and that you have other children as well but I will say that my 9 year old is doing really, really well with the arrival of her baby sister.  I'm loving the age gap and feel that DC #1's age is really well suited to having to put some of her needs behind her sibling and her mama.  It's been really great and I hope for the same for you and your little ones.  

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I have to disagree with this. I am definitely not one of those people that has a relatively happy disposition. I have had trouble with clinical depression since I was at least 15 years old. The one thing that has really helped me handle it is controlling my own thinking. This idea wasn't introduced to me until I was in my 30s but once it was I couldn't believe how well it works. I can now recognize when I'm getting into a depressive funk and consciously change my thinking, which makes a huge difference in how I feel.


That is great to hear!!  Unfortunately, I am very close to a few people who suffer either from depression or just a depressed disposition.  In general (and this is just the experience I've had and the books/articles I've read), I still think metacognition is the key to happiness for already (mostly) happy.  In fact, I would think that the inability to change one's way of thinking may be the cause of many forms of depression; not the other way around.  But I'm not saying it doesn't work for some and I am in no way suggesting that I'm an expert on this.  I've just spent so many hours, days, weeks thinking about my loved ones with depression wondering why they don't "just" get some perspective, be happy for what they have and change their outlook and I have now come to the belief that they just can't and they most certainly would if they could.  

 

If you feel like sharing I wonder what enabled you to change your way of thinking after many years of depression?  


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#74 of 148 Old 06-28-2011, 03:05 PM
 
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[quote name="IdentityCrisisMama" url="/community/forum/thread/1318110/what-is-that-gd-style-finding-acceptable-solutions-for-both-parent-and-child/60#post_16528021"Unfortunately, I am very close to a few people who suffer either from depression or just a depressed disposition.  In general (and this is just the experience I've had and the books/articles I've read), I still think metacognition is the key to happiness for already (mostly) happy.  In fact, I would think that the inability to change one's way of thinking may be the cause of many forms of depression; not the other way around.  But I'm not saying it doesn't work for some and I am in no way suggesting that I'm an expert on this.  I've just spent so many hours, days, weeks thinking about my loved ones with depression wondering why they don't "just" get some perspective, be happy for what they have and change their outlook and I have now come to the belief that they just can't and they most certainly would if they could.  

 

If you feel like sharing I wonder what enabled you to change your way of thinking after many years of depression?  

[/quote]

A really good therapist who taught me how to do it. It didn't happen overnight. It has been years. I was 30 or 31 when I started seeing her and I'm 41 now. It's almost certainly not something I would have discovered and been able to do on my own. I have since moved away from her and have not been able to find anyone like her.

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#75 of 148 Old 06-30-2011, 02:55 PM
 
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This is a nice thread, and timely for me. I have recently been thinking back on some of the approaches we've tried as parents, and what has worked for us and what hasn't, and why. 

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I think you have a good point.  I have a gut feeling that maybe some things we do as GD parents (and its range of philosophies) may well backfire a bit and, like you said, put too much pressure on kids.  I can't think of a good example right now but I do remember times when the most GD, CL or UP (and etc.) approach was in reality not as gentle for my DC than something else that may have looked insensitive in comparison.  Perhaps that's not what you had in mind though...


 

I agree with this. I've tried a CL kind of approach, and I do love the collaborative problem solving approach (explosive child book). BUT looking back now I can see that there were times when those approaches did not match my kids' abilities, and that did place too much pressure on them. I think the most important goal of gentle discipline is that whatever approach the parent chooses works well with the individual child's personality, needs and skills. Looking back, there were times that I wasn't aware that I was expecting my children to engage in a process that they really weren't ready for, and I do think that wasn't really gentle on them. I think it's far more important to be in tune with not only my children's needs but also their abilities, than it is to adhere to specifics of a particular discipline method or philosophy. 
 

 

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Honestly, part of his issue was that he just wasn't ready for "if-then" or "First-next" statements when we started usign them because "GD experts" said we should.   "Just explain that he has to hold your hand or he has to be carried," people would say.  "Just tell him he has to leave the park so that you can go home to eat dinner," they say.  Well, #1 was the kid screaming "WANT DINNER!  NO WANT TO LEAVE PARK!  WANT DINNER NOW!"  and all the "Honey, there is no dinner at the park.  We have to leave the park to get dinner.  Dinner is at home, and we have to go home from the park to get dinner," made any difference.  

 

 

Eventually, he grew into being able to process those statements.  But I think trying to use those statements too much when he wasn't developmentally ready for them led to a lot of frustration on both our parts.   I realized that if I just said "We are leaving the park now,"  he'd pitch a fit, but it was an easier fit than if I tried to cajole and reason and reason and cajole and then make a game and then give choices and then make a different game..... "Honey, It's time to go home now."  Pick him up, carry him to the car.  Console him with "We have to go home to get dinner," and then, LATER, after he'd calmed down, we could talk it out: "You didnt' want to leave the park today, did you?   But you know what?  You were happy when we got home and you saw we could eat dinner, right?   Well, we had to leave the park in order to get dinner!"




There were options to all of these. You could have brought food with you. Then dinner would be at the park. You could not worry about getting home for dinner at a specific time. You could have empathized with him in the moment like you did after he had calmed down without the "buts" and/or continuing to tell him that you still had to go. I'm not saying you should have done any of those things, but they were/are options.

 

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Well, the fact is that all of these are options. It doesn't mean you have to or should do any of these but you are choosing not to. That's really hard for a lot of people to grasp. You have the power and your child really has none. Sometimes it's necessary for us parents to use that power but many times it's us really just making a choice that is easier or more convenient or that makes more sense to us. Again, I'm not saying that's wrong. I'm just saying that is how it is, especially from the child's POV.

 


I remember lots of discussions about choices, and arguments just like this one, years ago in this forum. I think it was useful for me to hear this argument only in that it helped me become a little more creative when it comes to problem-solving. It helped me start to think outside the box a little bit. But I think that in reality, it just isn't true that we always have so many options. People are limited by circumstances, and some potential solutions are not realistic given the circumstances. Sometimes bringing dinner to the park is a potential option but isn't a realistic one. And if something isn't realistic, I don't think it's really much of a choice. And while I respect my child's POV, and I love to see people advocate for empathizing with the child's POV, the fact is that families are complex. Each member of the family has needs, sometimes those needs conflict, and it's not always possible to find a "mutually agreeable solution" in the moment. In the moment, we may be limited by time, by obligation, by the needs of another person, by resources, or by any number of other circumstances. Importantly, sometimes one or more family member is not able to engage in problem solving in the moment because they're too upset. 

 

Furthermore, children are developmentally different from adults, and do rely on the guidance of adults. There really are times when having the adult make the decision is actually less stressful for a child than engaging in problem-solving. I think that gets lost in these discussions sometimes. Additionally, I'm aware that sometimes my child's desires conflict with my child's needs. In that case I do think it's my responsibility as the parent to provide boundaries and guidance that will lead to meeting my child's needs, even at the expense of fulfilling their desires. I think this is another area where CL loses me. Sometimes we do understand better than our children do how a decision/action will affect our kids, and I believe that our children do look to us for guidance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#76 of 148 Old 06-30-2011, 03:25 PM
 
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But I think that in reality, it just isn't true that we always have so many options. People are limited by circumstances, and some potential solutions are not realistic given the circumstances. Sometimes bringing dinner to the park is a potential option but isn't a realistic one. And if something isn't realistic, I don't think it's really much of a choice....Additionally, I'm aware that sometimes my child's desires conflict with my child's needs. In that case I do think it's my responsibility as the parent to provide boundaries and guidance that will lead to meeting my child's needs, even at the expense of fulfilling their desires. I think this is another area where CL loses me. Sometimes we do understand better than our children do how a decision/action will affect our kids, and I believe that our children do look to us for guidance.

Well, yeah, not every possible choice is a realistic option. My point was to point out that those are all still choices and that the parent is the only who, ultimately, makes the decision even if the decision is to do what the child wants. That's because the parent is the one who has the power to not offer or consider some choices for whatever reason and/or to say no to something the child comes up with. The child doesn't really have much power in these situations, depending on the child's age. It's like the child can leave if s/he doesn't like want the parent has decided or agreed to go along with.

To get very extreme in that type of thinking, I have the choice to completely walk away from my family. I am capable and legally able to financially support myself or choose to live on the streets or whatever. My dh or other people in my family can and would take care of my children. My children don't have that choice at the ages they are right now. It's very unlikely that they would survive if they left.

Then there's the whole thing with needs vs. desires. There are really only a very few true needs in life, oxygen, water and food. Everything else is really a desire on some level or another. So, what a parent may see as a need vs. a desire, a child may not see that distinction and that doesn't mean the child is wrong or doesn't understand. It may be that the child understands better than the parent.

So, everything other than very basic survival needs becomes part of a balancing act. Does my desire to buy organic food trump my child's desire for a new bike? When I say that I don't have money for something that my child wants, do I really not have the money for that or am I choosing to spend the money we have on something else? These are things I catch myself on all the time.

Buying stuff has been a big issue with my 7yo lately. He wants to buy all kinds of things. He doesn't understand that I have bills have to pay before I can think about buying something else. It's not practical for me to skip the mortgage payment or paying the electric bill so that I can by him a new bike, especially when he has a perfectly good bike. Apparently, the problem is that it doesn't have a kick stand or hand brakes. However, I could not pay one of those bills if I chose to. No one would die if I didn't. The world wouldn't end. So, I have the power and I'm making the choice and my child has to just go along with it. That's why I try so hard to accommodate my kids as much as possible.

Ya know, I've never actually asked him if he thought I should buy him a new bike instead of paying the electric bill. Now I'm wondering what he would say.

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#77 of 148 Old 06-30-2011, 06:48 PM
 
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Hmm I don't know. Asking a child if you should buy them a new bike or pay the electric bill could potentially be taken as a guilt trip by the child. I don't know if giving them that option is really that helpful to kids.

I make the best choices I can and always keep both my kids' needs and wants in mind, but I'm better at seeing the big picture than they are and I'm more mature and can weigh plusses and minuses and see the big picture better than they can yet. I don't think I'd want to put a bunch of adult bill-paying fears and responsibilities on their shoulders. I'd empathize, "I wish we could afford to get you a new bike now" and keep it in mind in case things eased up and there was more money available. And I'd keep my eyes on craigslist and garage sales to try to find one cheaper.
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I don't really see how that would cause a guilt trip unless I said it in a way to make him feel guilty, which I wouldn't do. We've always been open about money and having bills to pay and such. It's not a secret or something to shelter our kids from.

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Then there's the whole thing with needs vs. desires. There are really only a very few true needs in life, oxygen, water and food. Everything else is really a desire on some level or another. So, what a parent may see as a need vs. a desire, a child may not see that distinction and that doesn't mean the child is wrong or doesn't understand. It may be that the child understands better than the parent.

So, everything other than very basic survival needs becomes part of a balancing act. 


I see your point and understand what you're saying, but I disagree. I think people do have more needs beyond oxygen, water, and food. I think there are needs beyond the very basics needed for survival. People need adequate sleep, for example, and lack thereof can absolutely lead to problems with physical or emotional health. People need safety and security, both physical and emotional. People need relationships, and to be touched, and to be understood. At times people need health care. People have a lot of needs beyond the bare minimum needed to survive. True, sometimes a need is also a desire. Sometimes it's difficult to separate needs and desires, sometimes a need is also a desire. It's not always easy, but we parents are often responsible for making the judgment call because we are more knowledgable and more skilled than our children. 

 

While I agree that sometimes it's difficult as parents to fully understand our children's feelings, needs, and desires, I also think that as adults we're often in a better place to understand the consequences of choices and to make decisions on behalf of our children. There are times when children do lack the understanding and/or knowledge to make a decision. 

 

I also agree that children do not have the same power as adults do. Sometimes this is frustrating for children. At other times this is comforting to them, they feel more secure knowing they can depend on their parents to take the lead and to take responsibility for decisions. I think one can believe that parents must take the lead in decision making while also being aware and respectful of children's relative lack of power, while giving them as many appropriate opportunities to make choices as possible. I do think it's the parent's responsibility to determine when it's appropriate for the child to make choices, to the best of the parent's ability. 


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Hmm I don't know. Asking a child if you should buy them a new bike or pay the electric bill could potentially be taken as a guilt trip by the child. I don't know if giving them that option is really that helpful to kids.

I make the best choices I can and always keep both my kids' needs and wants in mind, but I'm better at seeing the big picture than they are and I'm more mature and can weigh plusses and minuses and see the big picture better than they can yet. I don't think I'd want to put a bunch of adult bill-paying fears and responsibilities on their shoulders. I'd empathize, "I wish we could afford to get you a new bike now" and keep it in mind in case things eased up and there was more money available. And I'd keep my eyes on craigslist and garage sales to try to find one cheaper.


I agree. Adults are better at seeing the big picture. And I think that no matter how you phrase it, posing the bike vs. electric bill question to a child has the potential to cause the child to feel insecure. I've explained bill-paying to my kids. At times we've explained that we can't afford to purchase something at the moment. It's not that we don't talk about these realities. But I think asking a child to make a choice between paying a bill and buying a bike is too much for kids. That's a lot of pressure no matter how you phrase it. I do think kids need to know that their parents keep them secure and safe, that they don't have to make the big decisions that can affect their security and safety. 

 

I do value finding solutions that address both my concerns and my child's. However, I think this is best done when everyone is reasonably calm, and when it's appropriate for the child to be involved in the decision-making process (which is a lot of the time, just not all the time). I think engaging in problem-solving to find solutions that work for both my child and myself has very much helped my kids develop thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. Doing so has brought a lot of peace to our home, and helped us all grow. However, there are times when we as parents just need to make a decision in order to get through a situation, and we empathize with our children. Later we may talk with our children later about other ways we might have handled it. There are times when parents are better equipped to make a decision, and when it's not appropriate to invite the child to participate in making the decision. I welcome my children to share their thoughts and feelings about any decision, but I do not always invite them to participate in making the decision. 

 

 

 

 

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#80 of 148 Old 07-01-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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My point was to be very extreme about needs vs. desires because that helps me to put things in perspective. And, I think a lot of adults don't think in those terms. They have so many things that they consider needs that aren't really and have a tendency to think of just about everything that kids want as desires. Thinking in terms of extreme needs puts everyone's needs or desires on a more level playing field, imo.

As far as the money issue goes, I think it's important for kids to know about and a part of the family budgeting once they are at a point that they are asking about for things. I sit down with everyone in my family periodically to go over the entire family budget. The kids need to know how money comes in and how it goes out. Right now my 7yo ds thinks that I get money when I go to the store because he sees me get change or that it doesn't cost us anything if I use my credit card. It's difficult for him to get the connections between what's written on our bank statement and the paper bills I give the cashier at a store and the check that I send to the credit card company. He does have an allowance that I give him in cash so he can see how that goes up and down and how quickly it can get depleted to the point that he can't buy anything. I think that's helping. But even that is a demonstration of my arbitrary power over him since I decide how much allowance he gets and when and he has to wait for me to give it to him. I had read in the past of families that worked out their budgets and then split whatever was left evenly amongst everyone every month.

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#81 of 148 Old 07-01-2011, 08:41 AM
 
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My point was to be very extreme about needs vs. desires because that helps me to put things in perspective. And, I think a lot of adults don't think in those terms. They have so many things that they consider needs that aren't really and have a tendency to think of just about everything that kids want as desires. Thinking in terms of extreme needs puts everyone's needs or desires on a more level playing field, imo.

 

I understand how thinking in these extremes can help some people, and glad it helps you, but I'm not so sure it's helpful for everyone. It's the extremes that always leave me feeling disturbed by CL threads (though I've learned a lot found a lot of clarity by reading them). I think any person can fall into thinking of their needs and desires as needs, and other people's (not just children's) needs as mere desires. But I think that taking the point to the extreme of saying that basic survival needs are needs, and everything else is a desire, can also (unintentionally) diminish some of the very real needs of children. If you think about things in terms of "oxygen, water and food are needs, everything else is a desire," that can diminish a child's less tangible (but no less real) needs. Doing so can also diminish some of the very real needs of parents (and ignoring a parent's needs can also be harmful to a family). 

 

I'm sure if ten people each made a list of what are needs and what are desires, in the end there would be ten very different lists. I guess I find it much more helpful to think in terms of children needing as much autonomy and choice as they are developmentally ready for, and as is appropriate and realistic within the individual family. I find it more helpful to think in terms of children needing to have their needs, desires,  and feelings listened to, understood, and taken into consideration. 

 

Too often these discussions come across (to me, anyway) as advocating that we always strive to accommodate children's desires (often at the expense of the adult's/family's needs), and I think part of that is due to the extreme examples used. Going back to the example of leaving the park, I think some examples of alternative choices available are extreme and focused not on the needs of the entire family but on the needs of the child alone. This is my biggest problem with CL discussions. To me the terms "consensual" and "mutually agreeable" imply a solution that satisfactorily meets the needs of both parent and child, and that is realistic (actually doable). I find that when I read posts about CL I end up feeling as though I just don't understand CL, because there is talk of mutuality but so many of the examples of how to handle situations don't seem to meet the needs/desires of both parent and child, but only those of the child. Nor do advocates of CL seem to acknowledge the children are at a different place in development cognitively and emotionally than adults are, the assumption seems to be that children think and reason in the same way adults do. I value hearing the perspective, though, because it helps me clarify me own thoughts about parenting. 

 

 

 


 

 

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#82 of 148 Old 07-01-2011, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Loving this turn in the conversation!!  The craziest thing is this idea of CL putting too much pressure on kids may well be the core of what I butted up against way back but I never got my mind to that point when we were talking so much about it.  

 

I'll think more on the example of the bike vs. utility bill today.  When MW suggested it I was really intrigued by the idea but I too would be cautious.  The talks that DC and I have had about the household "big money" have seemed to be too much for my DC. 

 

Here are two other things that crossed my mind throughout this tread: 

 

1.  The issue of power. Is it really a common issue on the home?  Am I naive? Is it a give-in that parents have the power?  Or do some children have the power in the home?  Is it possible for that to just be a non-issue?  Do we think that children are aware of the issue of power in the home?  If so, how do you think they perceive this issue? 

 

2.  The issue of empathy vs. "finding alternative solutions to conflicts".  What do you all think of the relationship between empathy and going to fairly extreme measures to find solutions to conflicts? For example does the focus on eliminating problems effect empathy?  For adults, I feel that the focus on "solving problems" does effect empathy.  How about for kids?  

 

P.s. rushed post cuz baby is starting to fuss...

 

 

 


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#83 of 148 Old 07-01-2011, 09:17 AM
 
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I think most times trying to find an alternative solution or re-evaluating what we, as parents and adults, think is most important is most considerate to all involved. Empathy can be used while doing that. I'm not good at examples of empathy but something like a parent saying to the child, "You are frustrated because you want another bike and I said I won't (or can't) get you one right now. Maybe we can find a way to save some money each week or month (or whatever) so we can get that bike as soon as possible." That seems a lot better to me than just saying, "I know you want a new bike but I can't afford to buy you one now." The "but" sort of shuts down the communication whereas the "maybe we can work something out" leaves things open. Does that make sense?

With a younger child who cannot understand such things yet and the parent is not willing to accommodate the child, I think pure empathy is the way to go. WRT a young child wanting to buy something, I have found with my 4yo, and when he was younger, making a list of things he wants for future purchase like a birthday or Christmas is enough for him.

As far as adults sometimes knowing whats best for the child, I think that really comes down to what the parent thinks is most important. If we don't give children a chance to decide for themselves what's best or most important for them, how do we know they won't make good choices?

I think food is a good example to use for that. I can insist that I know what my children should and should not eat for their health and well-being because they don't understand how what they eat today may affect them 20 years from now. The fact is, though, that I don't know how that will affect any of us in the future either. There are so many opinions swirling around about what's healthy and unhealthy that I can only make a decision for myself based on what makes sense to me. As far as my children are concerned, I offer them a variety of different kinds of foods and let them choose. I have watched over the years that they make a lot of what I consider healthy choices. We talk a lot about what food is and what nutrients different foods provide and why our bodies need those nutrients and how eating different foods can make us feel. Many times my 4yo would have a choice between drinking soda or milk and he chooses milk or he has a choice between a sugary cereal or an egg and he chooses an egg. If he does choose soda, he doesn't drink much at all, just a few sips. My 7yo is on a water kick right now. That's almost all he ever wants to drink, which I happen to think is very good for him in this heat and fire weather we've been having. I have not insisted that he drink lots of water but it's there for him along with several other choices.

Even if I can and do control what my children are exposed to and, therefore, what they eat when they are young, I will not have any control over that as they get older. I think it's better to let them makes their own choices now and experience for themselves how they feel based on their choices. That doesn't mean that I put soda in their sippy cups when they are babies. It means that when they get to the age that they see other people drinking soda and enjoying it and want to try it, I don't forbid them. I probably have a bit of a different perspective than many others with young children because I had an almost 13yo when I had my 2nd child so my 2nd child was exposed to many things at a much younger age than I might have chosen.

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#84 of 148 Old 07-01-2011, 11:22 AM
 
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1.  The issue of power. Is it really a common issue on the home?  Am I naive? Is it a give-in that parents have the power?  Or do some children have the power in the home?  Is it possible for that to just be a non-issue?  Do we think that children are aware of the issue of power in the home?  If so, how do you think they perceive this issue? 

 

This is such an interesting question. I'm struggling to figure out if "power" is the right word, actually. 

 

As an adult, I certainly have more responsibilities, more choice, more autonomy, and more resources than my kids do. That probably does equal more power (or more agency or more autonomy, not sure which word I'm really looking for here). This (more responsibility, choice, etc.) is what I think of when these discussions turn to the idea that children have relatively little power within the family. Very young kids do mostly depend on adults to have their needs met. Little by little as they mature, kids take on more responsibility, develop more skills, are able to make more choices. As they mature kids develop their own inner resources, but usually it isn't until they're much older that they begin to acquire their own monetary resources (receiving an allowance is still depending on parents for that resource). I don't think this is a bad thing. It's just the way it is. 

 

I do think kids, all people, have a drive for autonomy, though kids would describe it as "wanting to do it/decide it myself." I think it's important to pay attention to our kids' development so that we're giving them more autonomy as they're ready for it.

 

I do think kids sometimes don't like it when adults make decisions for them. One of my kids absolutely hates it, thinks it's utterly unfair, when I decide that we're going to the store. She hates shopping. I respect that and try to arrange not to take her to the store often, but sometimes I need to go and she's not ready to stay home alone. I know that in those situations, while she describe her feelings in terms of powerlessness, I know she resents that I can decide where she's going to go and when. She wouldn't call it a "power imbalance," she would describe it as "it's not fair, you always say I have to go to the store."

 

 

Quote:
2.  The issue of empathy vs. "finding alternative solutions to conflicts".  What do you all think of the relationship between empathy and going to fairly extreme measures to find solutions to conflicts? For example does the focus on eliminating problems effect empathy?  For adults, I feel that the focus on "solving problems" does effect empathy.  How about for kids? 

This is also great food for thought. I would love to hear what you mean by "For adults, I feel that the focus on "solving problems" does affect empathy." When I read that, I immediately thought of how I used to tell my husband "I don't need you to try to fix it, I need you to just listen." I think sometimes people want and need to be heard more than (or before) they need help finding a solution.

 

I think empathy is the most important thing when conflicts arise. Not every conflict is one for which we need to problem solve and look for alternative solutions. I don't think we need to actually solve or fix every single problem that comes up. A really important piece of development is learning to cope when things go wrong.** To experience the sadness/anger/frustration, get through it, and realize you've survived is to develop resilience. Empathy helps kids build that resilience, to name those feelings, to learn to communicate about feelings. Problem-solving is a great skill too, but it's hard to engage in problem-solving if you can't empathize. I think the ability to empathize is partially neurological/developmental, but we also teach our children a lot about empathy by empathizing with them.

 

I also think that sometimes focusing on "solving the problem" gets in the way of empathy. It's possible to focus so much on finding a solution that you're not listening to the feelings.

 

I find that sometimes with my kids, I need to stop and just listen. No problem solving, no idea generating, just listening. Sometimes kids just needs to be heard, to know that we understand. Sometimes it's empathy kids need, not a different solution. I also think that taking time for empathy, to be sure you understand your child's feelings and concerns, can often lead you right to a solution if one is necessary. It's much more difficult to help a child or find an alternative solution if you don't first take the time to empathize and understand.

 

I'm sure this is all disjointed and rambling, and maybe repetitive. I'm typing between talking to kids and dealing with a barking dog. 

 

 


**ETA: Above, I'm not suggesting that I arbitrarily decide that with any given conflict my kids need to just work through their emotions (rather than seeking alternative solutions) because I think it's good for them. I can think of times when trying to find alternate solutions to a conflict in progress actually added to the emotional "heat" of the situation, adding tension and making the whole situation worse. I think as an aware parent, you develop a sense for when problem solving is likely to add to the tension vs. when it's going to be positive and helpful. I can get a feel for when my child really wants a solution vs. when what she's really looking for is empathy. Sometimes due to circumstances it's just not a time for problem-solving, but I can offer empathy and that's helpful to my kids. 
 
 

 

 

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I understand how thinking in these extremes can help some people, and glad it helps you, but I'm not so sure it's helpful for everyone. It's the extremes that always leave me feeling disturbed by CL threads (though I've learned a lot found a lot of clarity by reading them). I think any person can fall into thinking of their needs and desires as needs, and other people's (not just children's) needs as mere desires. But I think that taking the point to the extreme of saying that basic survival needs are needs, and everything else is a desire, can also (unintentionally) diminish some of the very real needs of children. If you think about things in terms of "oxygen, water and food are needs, everything else is a desire," that can diminish a child's less tangible (but no less real) needs. Doing so can also diminish some of the very real needs of parents (and ignoring a parent's needs can also be harmful to a family). 

 

I'm sure if ten people each made a list of what are needs and what are desires, in the end there would be ten very different lists. I guess I find it much more helpful to think in terms of children needing as much autonomy and choice as they are developmentally ready for, and as is appropriate and realistic within the individual family. I find it more helpful to think in terms of children needing to have their needs, desires,  and feelings listened to, understood, and taken into consideration. 

 

Too often these discussions come across (to me, anyway) as advocating that we always strive to accommodate children's desires (often at the expense of the adult's/family's needs), and I think part of that is due to the extreme examples used. Going back to the example of leaving the park, I think some examples of alternative choices available are extreme and focused not on the needs of the entire family but on the needs of the child alone. This is my biggest problem with CL discussions. To me the terms "consensual" and "mutually agreeable" imply a solution that satisfactorily meets the needs of both parent and child, and that is realistic (actually doable). I find that when I read posts about CL I end up feeling as though I just don't understand CL, because there is talk of mutuality but so many of the examples of how to handle situations don't seem to meet the needs/desires of both parent and child, but only those of the child. Nor do advocates of CL seem to acknowledge the children are at a different place in development cognitively and emotionally than adults are, the assumption seems to be that children think and reason in the same way adults do. I value hearing the perspective, though, because it helps me clarify me own thoughts about parenting. 


 

What I often see happening, in these discussions, is people starting to argue either that for the child, wants ARE needs, or that it is not the place of the parent to decide whether something is a want or a need for their child.   What's often missing is that one aspect of becoming an adult in this world is learning that not all wants are needs, and how to distinguish between them.   Much of that is developmental (you have to learn that your perspective and someone else's perspective are not the same, such that two different people might have simultaneous competing needs/wants) but much of it is learned.

 

There's also an interesting disconnect, because many CL advocates seem to simultaneously ignore real cognitive differences between adults and children and then insist that children *do* have different needs than adults, that don't seem to change from infancy on.  Example: For an infant, wants do in fact equal needs.  However, as a child grows and moves into the larger world, there really will be wants that aren't needs, but CL continues to act as though every expression of desire by a child reflects something that should be provided if at all possible, even at fairly great inconvenience, pain, or cost to the parent.   The same child is also attributed with an adult capacity for reasoning and the ability to predict the consequences of getting what they want.

 


savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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Originally Posted by MarineWife View PostI'm not good at examples of empathy but something like a parent saying to the child, "You are frustrated because you want another bike and I said I won't (or can't) get you one right now. Maybe we can find a way to save some money each week or month (or whatever) so we can get that bike as soon as possible." That seems a lot better to me than just saying, "I know you want a new bike but I can't afford to buy you one now." The "but" sort of shuts down the communication whereas the "maybe we can work something out" leaves things open. Does that make sense?


I'm struggling with this because it seems to me that the empathy is coming in the form of trying to fix the problem in the example above.  What you are describing sounds a lot like what we've been doing lately and there is something that feels off to me - something I want to fix/change.  Maybe it's that I feel like I'm trying to pacify?  

 

Now a big part of this of course is my DC.  She sometimes gets the idea that she wants something but she doesn't always stick to the idea of wanting that particular thing.  So, for her, if she says she wants a new bike and I tell her that maybe we can save for it she will likely just forget about the whole thing.  It's convenient but it doesn't feel genuine to me.  


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Even if I can and do control what my children are exposed to and, therefore, what they eat when they are young, I will not have any control over that as they get older. I think it's better to let them makes their own choices now and experience for themselves how they feel based on their choices. That doesn't mean that I put soda in their sippy cups when they are babies. It means that when they get to the age that they see other people drinking soda and enjoying it and want to try it, I don't forbid them. I probably have a bit of a different perspective than many others with young children because I had an almost 13yo when I had my 2nd child so my 2nd child was exposed to many things at a much younger age than I might have chosen.

 

I totally agree with you here and think we may have a pretty similar style when it comes to food.  The food issue is one where I can see the problem of putting too much responsiblity on a child.  For instance, my DC goes to school with several kids who have come to the conclusion that fast food is very terrible in an over the top sort of way.  I'm not sure if I'm describing it well but I get the feeling sometimes that these kids are taking this view because they think it will please their parents.  


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This is such an interesting question. I'm struggling to figure out if "power" is the right word, actually. 

 

As an adult, I certainly have more responsibilities, more choice, more autonomy, and more resources than my kids do. That probably does equal more power (or more agency or more autonomy, not sure which word I'm really looking for here). This (more responsibility, choice, etc.) is what I think of when these discussions turn to the idea that children have relatively little power within the family. Very young kids do mostly depend on adults to have their needs met. Little by little as they mature, kids take on more responsibility, develop more skills, are able to make more choices. As they mature kids develop their own inner resources, but usually it isn't until they're much older that they begin to acquire their own monetary resources (receiving an allowance is still depending on parents for that resource). I don't think this is a bad thing. It's just the way it is. 

 

 

Perhaps it is just that I don't really use the word power when I'm thinking of this stuff because of course I agree that parents have more agency, more autonomy and are not dependent on children.  OTOH, (and perhaps this sounds super childish but I don't mean it that way at all), I do not have the power to NOT be responsible for my child.  Yes, under the law maybe I do...or I could escape and assume a false identity but I'm not going to do that.  I feel "powerless" to care for my child.  I don't think of it as a bad thing - it's just the way things are.  

 

Another way to imagine it may be to consider whether we feel less and less powerful over our children as they develop.  I really, really don't feel LESS powerful as my child gets older, which makes me think maybe there isn't a power imbalance going on.  Of course I don't have a grown, independent child so maybe it's something that just goes away once they move out?  I'll ask my mom if there was a time she felt that she had power over me and, if so, when it went away.  Or, maybe I'll find out that she still thinks she has power over me...that'll prompt an interesting discussion!  :LOL 

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Originally Posted by Magella View Post
This is also great food for thought. I would love to hear what you mean by "For adults, I feel that the focus on "solving problems" does affect empathy." When I read that, I immediately thought of how I used to tell my husband "I don't need you to try to fix it, I need you to just listen." I think sometimes people want and need to be heard mo before) they need help finding a solution.

 

Yes, that's exactly what I meant.  We have an ongoing debate in my extended family about what exactly it means to be sympathetic (the word we use).  I'll admit that I am the type to dole it out pretty sparingly.  I tend to want to give sympathy in amounts proportional to the problem and not in proportion to how much a person wants to dwell.  Yes, I am known as the b!tch of the family (only in this way...in other ways I am thought of as one of the sweetest - I kind of like the contradiction).  ;-)  In contrast to this I feel as though people who consider themselves to be super sympathetic tend to be more of the "problem solver" types.  I'll admit that this tendency to want to solve the problem seems like "fake sympathy" to me.    

 

Originally Posted by Magella View Post

I find that sometimes with my kids, I need to stop and just listen. No problem solving, no idea generating, just listening. Sometimes kids just needs to be heard, to know that we understand. Sometimes it's empathy kids need, not a different solution. I also think that taking time for empathy, to be sure you understand your child's feelings and concerns, can often lead you right to a solution if one is necessary. It's much more difficult to help a child or find an alternative solution if you don't first take the time to empathize and understand.

Yes, I agree.  

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Originally Posted by Magella View PostI can think of times when trying to find alternate solutions to a conflict in progress actually added to the emotional "heat" of the situation, adding tension and making the whole situation worse. I think as an aware parent, you develop a sense for when problem solving is likely to add to the tension vs. when it's going to be positive and helpful. I can get a feel for when my child really wants a solution vs. when what she's really looking for is empathy. Sometimes due to circumstances it's just not a time for problem-solving, but I can offer empathy and that's helpful to my kids. 


Again, I think this is a good thing to keep in mind because I do think it often comes down to the individual kid and the individual situation.  

 

On the subject of empathy: what do you as a parent do in those situations where empathy is really difficult to achieve?  For instance, when the child is focused on a problem that you *know* is not what the underlying issue is (but perhaps you are not 100% sure what the problem is OR that the child is not willing or able to acknowledge).  Or what about when the child is very upset about something that you just find totally unreasonable and you find the prospect of sympathizing about it really difficult.  

 

On a total off topic side note:  Re: the "unfair issue".  I heard this sweet response to the issue of fairness - this guy tells his kid that you never look to someone else's plate to see if they got more than you.  You only look to see if they got enough.  Sweet, ha?  


 


 


 


 


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What I often see happening, in these discussions, is people starting to argue either that for the child, wants ARE needs, or that it is not the place of the parent to decide whether something is a want or a need for their child.   What's often missing is that one aspect of becoming an adult in this world is learning that not all wants are needs, and how to distinguish between them.   Much of that is developmental (you have to learn that your perspective and someone else's perspective are not the same, such that two different people might have simultaneous competing needs/wants) but much of it is learned.

 

There's also an interesting disconnect, because many CL advocates seem to simultaneously ignore real cognitive differences between adults and children and then insist that children *do* have different needs than adults, that don't seem to change from infancy on.  Example: For an infant, wants do in fact equal needs.  However, as a child grows and moves into the larger world, there really will be wants that aren't needs, but CL continues to act as though every expression of desire by a child reflects something that should be provided if at all possible, even at fairly great inconvenience, pain, or cost to the parent.   The same child is also attributed with an adult capacity for reasoning and the ability to predict the consequences of getting what they want.

 

I agree with everything you've said here. I've noticed these things too. I agree that there's a tendency in these discussions to argue that children's wants are needs, and that is another example of the extremes that I find disturbing in these discussions. I think what I'm noticing over time is the implication that an adult's needs are actually wants, while a child's wants are actually needs. I think you captured perfectly the disconnect from the facts about children's development and children's cognitive abilities that I often see in these discussions. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the subject of empathy: what do you as a parent do in those situations where empathy is really difficult to achieve?  For instance, when the child is focused on a problem that you *know* is not what the underlying issue is (but perhaps you are not 100% sure what the problem is OR that the child is not willing or able to acknowledge).  Or what about when the child is very upset about something that you just find totally unreasonable and you find the prospect of sympathizing about it really difficult.  

 


 

Oh, I have had so much experience with these situations! I have a child who, when younger, was just so rigid and so easily upset. This child could dwell on something for so long. I mean, crying and moaning and complaining and carrying on for and hour or more. And it was so often over something that to me was no big deal. I had trouble *sympathizing* but I could offer *empathy.* That is, I could not relate to feeling so upset over something so seemingly minor. I didn't really feel badly for her, in an "oh, poor dc" way. BUT I could listen and let her know I heard her and understood, I could say "you're disappointed, you didn't want it to rain today." To me, empathy is more just listening and letting them know we hear what they're feeling.

 

At the same time, there was a limit. After she'd been focusing on her upset for awhile, there would just come a time when I'd disengage from that particular interaction. I'd say something like "i hear that you're upset. I know it's hard. I'm done talking about it for now. When you're calm we can [do something else]." Sometimes there's a point when a child benefits from some space to work through their feelings, when continued interaction feeds the upset. 

 

As to when the child is focused on an issue that is NOT the actual issue, we get that a lot here. Sometimes, the solution is to talk until we figure out what the underlying issue is. We might say something like "you're upset about [x], what's up?" Child may be able to say, we may be able to guess. But either way the empathy we offer is "you're upset." Example: "Wow, you're really angry. I know your brother bumped into you and that's annoying, but you seem extra angry. Did you have a bad day?" Or something like that. Sometimes, if I know what the underlying issue is I can point it out. For example, my oldest struggles with anxiety, and it often comes out as irritability directed toward her siblings (with lots of complaining about them). I might say "I notice that you're really cranky today. I'm thinking maybe you're feeling anxious today. What do you think?"

 

I also think it's hard to go very wrong with "wow, you're really upset. Do you need a hug?" Sometimes that's all they need in order to feel heard, understood, and loved. Sometimes it opens the floodgates of communication. And even if it's not perfect, it'll do for now.

 

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#90 of 148 Old 07-01-2011, 04:57 PM
 
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Magella ~ Great posts.

ICM ~ I see what you mean about my empathy statement. I told you I wasn't very good at giving examples of that. redface.gif Those two statements wouldn't necessarily come in succession. It would be part of a discussion with those statements sort of being the beginning and the end. There might be a lot more empathy and discussion in between.

There is a big difference between empathy and sympathy. I think sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone else. Sympathy, a lot of times, is not helpful even though it seems to be the accepted, polite response to disappointments and hurts and such. I don't offer sympathy much, either. I don't find it useful. Empathy is acknowledging and accepting how the other person feels. You don't necessarily have to understand why they feel the way they do. You don't have to relate to them. You just acknowledge and accept it.

As far as what to do if you're not sure exactly what it is that the child is upset about, you can do just what Magella said. Guessing is ok as long as it's authentic. I think the child will most times get that you are really trying to understand the situation and they might then be able to give you more info about it.

I do think that parents have power over children, legally and just by the nature of the relationship. It's the same type of power that my dh has over me to a certain extent because he's the sole financial support of me. At this point in our lives, I am completely financially dependent on him. He could, if he wanted, use that to try to control me (as many bread winners do). The difference between that and the power parents have over children is that I can choose to leave my dh if he tried that whereas the kids can't. They can't get jobs and live on their own and support themselves. Kids get this very early on as they learn that they have to ask their parents for this or that. They can't just hop in the car and go to the store or a restaurant or the park or pool or a friend's house whenever they feel like it. They have to ask their parents and wait until they are taken, assuming they are taken at all. How kids feel about that power imbalance depends on how parents and other adults use it, imo. That's where the idea that the more you truly consider your child's POV and do what you can to help the child get what he wants as well, the less likely they are to react strongly those times when you can't accommodate them.

I don't really understand the feeling of being powerless to my children. I choose every moment of every day to take care of them. I do it because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. There are times when I feel more up to the task than others. Those times when I'm not feeling quite up to it I find ways to make things more easy for me and still give my children what they need. I'm not a supermom and I have no desire to be one. I just do the best I can on a daily basis to take care of them and me.
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