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July 11, 2008



Something that is helpful when La (the 5 year old) needs something from me, but I'm in the middle of something I need to do (usu. housework or feeding the baby), I'll say, "Let me finish doing this, then I'll help you with that." Unless I break my word and start doing something else, it works pretty well.

I don't see why it couldn't work in the reverse - where you're asking for help with something and you really do want to give the kid the option of helping/not helping. If they're in the middle of something it is hard to just stop and switch gears to something they may not really want to do (it can be hard to switch gears from one fun thing to another fun thing, even). You could offer them some options like, "When you finish building your Lego tower, could you give me a hand with ____." Or if it's something that really needs to get done, "I really need your help to get this _____ straightened out. Can you take 5 minutes to wrap up what you're working on and then give me a hand with it?" (the phrasing on this probably needs improvement, but...)

I have to say, that's a pretty radical concept to be affording your kids the same respect of their time and needs that you would an adult. Radical in the sense of palm to the forehead, "Why didn't I think of that?"


@Cathy, I do use that phrasing when I remember to - would you be willing to finish what you are doing, and then help me with this task?

Which at that time led to Mr G saying he was just looking for this one lego item, and then after he did NOT find it, proceeding to do something else with the lego, which left me quite irritable because I then could not tell if he'd forgotten what he'd agreed to, was regretting the agreement and was therefore avoiding/ignoring me, or if he was still somehow looking for it, or if he'd added a task to his list that he needed to accomplish (having not had his sense of accomplishment from the lego part he didn't find), or WHAT???

Argh. BUT, that was one of the more successful moments - I expressed my discomfort and confusion with not knowing what choice he had made, and was therefore waiting for his help and feeling frustrated because his actions did not match his words. He then said that the last option was the situation - he needed to complete SOMETHING on the lego before he felt comfortable stopping, but hadn't felt it was okay to say so, so hadn't said anything at all.

Not a helpful answer, and we didn't resolve it at that time. BUT, we kept the discussion going, which is a good start.

Anyway. Yeah, it is radical to use the words that we'd use with an adult, but it is POWERFUL. We use the example from the P.E.T. book about how we'd speak and what we'd do if our parent was partially disabled and came to live with us. If they didn't help clean up, how would we speak to them? Certainly NOT like we'd speak to our kids, for most of us! Just picturing our kids as fully functioning humans with a temporary disability that leaves them unable to function at an adult level (YET!) is huge. Radical. Shocking. Imagine standing over your mom and pushing her hands away from her shoelaces because she was taking too long to tie them, and saying 'Here, let ME do that, we're LATE.' ... it's a departure, but a good one.

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