Today when your child misbehaves, look for ways to see beyond the behavior to the root. That one sentence was a serious challenge to me. To paraphrase Bill Cosby, more often than not, parents aren’t interested in justice, they are interested in quiet. Too often I don’t care why my kids are misbehaving, but I want it to stop. But as Jamie points out in this chapter, kids’ minds don’t work like adults. I find this to be especially hard with my 2 year old. I often don’t understand what he is saying, let alone why he’s throwing things on the floor. Sometimes he’s just being two, other times there is a reason.
I think the root of much of my children’s bad behavior comes from need for reassurance. They want to see if I notice and care enough to correct them. I’ve often wondered if letting them run wild would be easier. (I do know that it isn’t, but as any tired parent can attest, the temptation is always there). But I think they get security from knowing that I won’t let them do anything really dangerous or terrible.
But roots matter, motive matters. When my two year old bites his sister is it because he’s angry that she took his toy, frustrated that I won’t pay attention to him or does his mouth just hurt? When my five year old whines at me, is it because she just wants me to drop everything and give her my attention for a minute or is something really wrong?
I want to be more aware of what is going on in my kids’ heads, even if they can’t always understand it themselves. Sometimes I try to remember what it was like to be a kid, and I often do. I remember thinking that all I wanted was to be a grownup, so that I could do whatever I wanted. I had no idea how good I had it having hours to read and play and the whole summer to have fun. I remember feel the sense of injustice when both of us got punished for what one child did. I remember feeling angry at the lack of control I felt I had over my life. (In some ways that feeling has never entirely gone away). So in those moments when I’m tempted to disregard the way and just deal with the how, I’m going to try to bed better at slowing down and trying to see my kids’ perspective, even if the end result/punishment is the same. I hope knowing that I get them will make it easier.