My daughter has an incredible sense of self so her needs are usually clearly stated while her behaviors are sometimes outrageous. She recently went on a pro-Chloe marketing campaign around the house. Everyone started to find “I love Chloe?” printed on the house, gutters, plants, driveway, etc in black sharpie ink. I am not certain why she included the question mark. Was this a punctuation of humility? Naivety? Or simply a red herring so that her sisters would be blamed for the graffiti? No one will ever know her self-promotion need, as she is not talking. I accept it though as a creative outlet – I may not have been so accommodating a few years back, though.
The mind of one of my children works differently than most peoples’ minds. It was no surprise that she easily qualified for the gifted program at school. I was surprised when she repeatedly decided not to turn in homework on time and subsequently lost her place in the gifted program.
Acceptance of a child’s actions is sometimes hard. I was disappointed as a parent at this wonderful lost opportunity. I was accepting as a parent who loves his child and sees each of their actions as a reflection of a need.
She needed more structure and more self-expression. Not turning in assignments was a behavior to get a need met. I focused on the need and discussed the behavior. Once she knew I understood her need, she willingly listened and we worked on a solution together. This created the empathetic space for us to have a dialogue rather than creating a power dynamic where she felt coerced and unheard.
She is always ready with a logical excuse to vindicate her action, even when she is clearly in the wrong! What’s worse is that it usually makes sense and is disarming in its humor. I happily listen to these entertaining forays.
A good case in point: At the store, Chloe told grandpa that she needed a chocolate bar. He said, “You’ve eaten so much chocolate that your eyes are brown (she has brown eyes,) and if you eat one more bar it will come out of your ears!” Her instant reply, “It doesn’t work that way Grandpa, the chocolate comes out of the bottom, so you can put more chocolate on top!”
Intelligence is a double-edged sword. As a parent, you can overthink yourself and end up in trouble with your children as they grow. You mistakenly focus on your needs and your perceived needs for the child rather than listen to their explanations and needs as well.
The child will internalize respect, clear communication and belief in their own abilities if you give them the space to grow while learning to state their needs with you listening and visa versa. An amazing consciousness will develop in both of you.
Our intelligence and wisdom are gifts allowing us to see with clarity and understanding, enabling the ability to solve problems quickly. Use these gifts to make life wonderful for your children while allowing the child to learn, as they need to.
Anyway, I forgot to ask if grandpa ended up buying her a chocolate bar that day as I was so amused by her wit.