Conflicting Needs

This is one conversation with A which is typical of many kids this age and the way you handle their needs plays crucial role in their developing behaviour.

6:58 PM

Me: Just got up to serve dinner

A: (tired, crying tone) I want painting

Me: Yes, sure, shall we paint after having some food

A: I Want painting

Me: Hugging A. Sure, do you want to paint and then have food or eat and then paint?

A: I want painting

Me: (carried along her) Which colour do you want to paint? BTW, Do you want to know what's there for dinner? (excited tone)

Me: (showed her the curry) it is raw banana!! Do you just want to taste it? We can paint as soon as we finish this.

A: (seated comfortably) I want painting

Me: Yes sure, but, we cannot paint while eating. Shall we quickly finish this off?

A: (looking at the plate reluctantly)

Me: Do you want to bite on a smaller piece or a bigger one?

A: biiiiiiiiiiig

Me: Ok, here it is

A: now, smaaaaaaaall

Me: Yes, smaaaaall, take this one, Do you want to take it your self?

A: (established comfort level with the food) I'll take this one, you take the smaller piece amma

A: A has big piece, amma has small piece, but amma big A small

A: Chewing on a big piece, spits out some part of it

Me: ok, you didnt like it? leave it, take another piece, whichever you want. (Do not yell, do not get irritated)

I notice that it was a very big piece she had taken earlier and she felt it was little undercooked in the inside, though it was evenly cooked. Respect her views as well, because she need not have the same views as I have every time.

A: continues to eat

Me: OK, ill get charu(this is a liquid dish mixed in rice)

A: I will have it myself with spoon, you don't hold it.

Me: Be careful, it will spill over

A: being very slow while eating

Me: I observe what she is doing and why she was slow. The charu being a liquid item beingat a very low level in her plate, she was not able to take a full spoon of it when the plate was kept horizontal. She tried to tilt the plate and noticed that the level of charu came up at one side of the plate. Bit of it also spilled over. Yes, from a parent's eye, she may be playing. But, no, she is learning. Again from parent's eye, she might have spilled over. But, she didn't do it knowingly. She didn't know it would leak off from the edge when she tilted the plate.

If you had yelled or just ignored her, she continues to tilt the plate leading to spill out the entire food. Instead, if you had observed what she was doing and explained to her that, it is a liquid and it cannot be held hard, if you over tilt it, it will spill out, tilt it only to the desired level and so on. She is sure to learn something out of it, practice her learning positively and build trust in her parent that you are always there to guide her.

This learning is very much different from the reaction you get out of yelling or ignoring your child.

Me: (got curd rice) Shall we have some curd?

A: I want krishna book

Me: Aren't your hands wet/untidy? Do you want to hold the book?

A: I'll wipe them off with cloth, I want krishna book

Me: OK, getting it

Instead of only telling to do this and that and all the fifty rules, try posing questions to your child. Ask her if she can handle it. She will herself do what you wanted her to do. If I had yelled at her saying, 'no book now, your hands are dirty or this is not the time or first dinner then anything', it would seem like an order to her. Put yourself in her place and think over if you will really do whatever is being told by people around you.

Another example where questioning works is when she wants to lift/handle something that you fear will spoil if she drops it down. Ask your child to just see if she can really hold it hard or it's heavy for her. She will put her hand, try lifting one side and then leave it if she feels it is heavy. Do not restrict her, instead, questioning her will enhance her thinking and decision making ability.

Children learn by examples, patience, love, respect and not out of rules.

Yes, she happily started painting after finishing her dinner. Once you notice your child is tired and is asking something that is not feasible at that moment, all what is needed is a tight hug, soft voice and assurance that you will definitely give her what she wants. No force, no rolling on the floor, no getting upset. Everyone is cool.