AFTER getting a little frustrated attempting to hang some twisted jeans on a clothes airer, my son said to me (as we do, him) “take a step back, Dad.” (He had our attention, because we knew what was happening.) After modelling what we require him to do when he gets frustrated — take a moment’s reflection — he comes up to me and, as I crouched down to his level, he says, “So what happened?” A discussion about what happened took place. Then he said, “Okay, I forgive you.” A few seconds later he told me he was proud of me.
It was a moment in my family’s time where we had to have the presence of mind to allow our young son to model what we model as a way of us impressing upon him the importance of example and of justice. He modelled respectful communication as we try to. He modelled care for me as he noticed me losing control. He modelled a heart for peace and reconciliation and the management of emotions. And it possibly is a powerful reinforcer of this method when we need to apply it next with him. (As it turned out, less than two hours later he was sent to bed early for not doing what he was told.)
Doesn’t parenting require much humility?
Humility and presence of awareness. I/we could have missed the opportunity had I overruled him. (And in our home those opportunities are often missed.) Had we missed it, he would have learned nothing. It’s not like I’m trying to promote him in his maturity or elevate us in our parenting wisdom. (We’re as ‘normal’ a family as yours is.) The win here is simply about capturing a moment and being aware enough of the potential positive coaching moment. In the moment, we caught ourselves observing what it was that our son actually knew, giving him the opportunity to show us; to be the teacher. Had he done it in a disrespectful way he would have been immediately chastised. We gave him the chance. On this occasion, it paid off.
We need to give people a chance to fail for them to experience what it’s like to succeed.