Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Is your child a quitter?
I know. I personally don't believe it is a good idea to label our children because once we do, we act from that place and our expectations become locked into that label.
I have wondered in the last couple of years, when we have gone from trying Tae-Kwon-Do, ballet, cheer leading, pottery, swimming and piano lessons, if my 8 year-old simply is not able to stick with one activity.
Our last "struggle" came after a week of not practicing the piano because of Christmas. My husband decided our daughter needed to resume her daily practice of 20 minutes to honor her agreement to keep up her skills. I tell you, it would have been easier to extract a tooth from an alligator than it was to convince her of the value of keeping up the practice. She sat in front of the piano, in complete defeat, crying that she didn't know how to "do it". The first thing that went through my mind (and I am glad it stayed there!) was how much I wanted to scream that she was being an ungrateful, little stinker. My husband, with his infinite patience took over immediately once I gave him "the look". He knows that look means "I am done with YOUR child: you need to take over". She continued to whine and protest and eventually did start playing and did an excellent job.
For the next two days we had the same situation: power struggles every single day. After a call to my good friend Susan, I realized that even though this was a great opportunity for our daughter, it was important for me to "let go" of my need for her to appreciate it and to enjoy it. The fact remained, I couldn't make her do it and I wasn't willing to fight about it every single day.
On the way to her piano lessons, I calmly told her she only needed to finish her lessons until the end of January and after that she was free to quit. I told her that as an 8 year old she gets to make some choices and this was one of them: if she didn't want to do piano anymore, I wasn't going to force her.
No sooner had I finish saying that last sentence, when I hear from the back of the car: I AM NOT QUITING! You can't make me quit. I will continue to do my piano lessons because I like them. I don't want to quit. And that's final!
Parenting is an adventure: Most of the time I can appreciate that no matter how many books I've read, how many degrees I have and how many classes I teach/take, there's no substitute for the "hands-on" experience my 8 year-old offers me everyday! You never know how anything you do is truly going to turn out. She's establishing her independence while I am establishing a nice set of gray hair.
How have you taken the "struggle" out of your power struggles? Do you have any stories to share? I'd love to hear them!