Hear, then hold
This morning, Grace came into our room and said she wanted to keep her pajamas on. Monday through Friday, the kids take their pajamas off and get dressed before coming downstairs for breakfast. However on Saturday and Sunday, they can keep their pajamas on. I’m not sure if Grace was confused about what day it was or she just wanted to keep her pajamas on, but she definitely wanted to keep them on! Instead of leading with reason and logic — which I’m retraining myself NOT to do — I led with connection. I hear you girl. You want to keep your pajamas on. They are so soft. There are so many mornings I want to keep my pajamas on too. Then I stopped talking.
She was quiet for a minute and then asked, “So can I keep them on?” I told her, No honey bunny. Today is Monday which means we need to take our pajamas off and get our clothes on. Do you want to get dressed on your own or with help? She choose with help.
Kids are anything but a formula. However, a formula that helps me is hear, then hold. It is just the reminder I need to hear my kids first. To listen and let them know they I truly do hear them.
Hearing does not mean allowing (characteristic of permissive parenting). Oh sweet girl you want your pajamas on? OK! You can keep them on and get everything else you ask for all day as well! Oh no no. Hearing simply means, I hear the words coming out of your mouth and I empathize with you. Hearing first has made it much easier for me to then hold the boundary. As Janet Lansbury reminds me in her book No Bad Kids, “Parents sometimes fear they will crush a child’s spirit if they are firm and consistent about rules. Truthfully, it is the other way around. A child does not feel free unless boundaries are clearly established.”