Yesterday morning we were due to leave the house and go to visit some friends. My daughter didn’t want to go and was quite adamant about it. I was surprised, as she normally loves visiting her friends, and enjoys going out. She’d had plenty of downtime at home this week, and I felt like we both needed to get out and be sociable. I was concerned that there were some upset feelings, making her feel like she didn’t want to leave the house. Should I listen to her, and just stay home like she appeared to want? I wasn’t sure I could face a long day at home without adult company!
I started explaining to her, explaining that we’d already said we would go, explaining that I didn’t want to let my friend down as she was cooking lunch for us, and explaining that I needed to get out of the house. I started trying to persuade her to do the things she need to leave the house, like go to the toilet as she hadn’t gone all morning. No response.
Then I snapped out of lecture mode. I held her hand and found myself leading her into the bedroom, saying in a mock serious voice, ‘we need to go to the toilet,” and then ”oh no that’s not the toilet!!’ She laughed. Then I would lead her to the sofa, and say the same thing, then to the balcony, a cupboard or outside. She laughed and laughed at my inability to find the toilet, and then when we went into the bathroom. she was happy to go. Five minutes later we were out of the house! She had a great time with her friends, with much laughter and giggling, as they all jumped on the beds together. By the end of the visit she was asking if she could stay there for a sleepover!
We adults can get serious sometimes. We have a lot of responsibility and weight on our shoulders. It can be hard to meet everyone’s needs at the same time. But when we can find the laughter, play, and connection, we can often find co-operation and a solution that works for everyone.
So if you find yourself slipping into lecture mode, just remember the language of children, and put on your clown hat instead!