As parents (especially of young children), we’re often given multiple opportunities to react to something unexpected, even undesirable and, quite often, messy. Lipstick being used like a marker, flour being sprinkled like snow, and the list goes on and on….
The first words out of your mouth and the initial look on your face is crucial to the beliefs being built in your child’s subconscious. Wouldn’t it be useful to have a comment at the ready that is thoughtful and empowering? Wouldn’t it be useful to buy yourself a quick minute to regain a sense of calm without laying guilt or shame or worry on your child?
I wonder what might happen if your immediate response was: What are we going to do now? It seems like an innocent enough question BUT , it’s a question (not an exclamation) and questions open doors and allow for thought and problem solving. This questions also implies that you are going to do something, that you are capable of handling this situation and that you have the skills to fix it and get yourself back on track. It’s very different from “Oh my God!” accompanied by the look of exhaustion and disappointment. It’s very different from “Look at the mess you made!” accompanied by the look of disapproval and frustration. Our subconscious takes in everything and a child will make meaning from that initial split second reaction from a parent. What if you were prepared? What if by asking this question you also felt capable and like you could get the day back on track? And I wonder what responses you might get from your child after you ask this question. Would they say I’m sorry? Would they say they need to clean it up? Would they ask you to join in the fun of whatever it is they are doing?
There’s some simple and elegant power in this question and I wonder, What are you going to do now?