It happened again! My son ran out of his room after cleaning it, yelling “That was FUN!” Now before you shoot me dirty looks or hit the home button, let me assure you this is NOT normal. At least it hasn’t been.
Normally, when it comes to cleaning up, my 6-year old has been quick to despair. He spends most of his time in the realm of imagination and his little body with sensory, auditory and self-regulation challenges doesn’t quite know what to do with being jerked into a reality he doesn’t want to or feel like he can face. I’ve tried nagging. (I wouldn’t have called it that at the time, but in hindsight, yep.) I’ve felt the tug of war between frustration and compassion even as I’ve quickly done most of his work for him when no one was looking.
When my husband and I started to take notice of the sneaky influence of entitlement in our family life, we found help in The Entitlement Fix, an e-course by Connected Families. As I listened to Jim and Lynne as they shared stories and modeled role plays, I had a lightbulb moment:
I don’t have to choose between connecting with my kids and holding them accountable. I can do both.
Grabbing hold of what felt like missing puzzle pieces in the framework of our family culture, I started to practice what I was learning. While I was amazed in the improvement of my interactions with my 9-year-old daughter, my 6-year-old remained a mystery to me. How could I show him how capable he is? How could I help him grow?
A few days ago, I gathered the kids for a much-needed cleanup session. Their rooms and playroom looked a little daunting, but I could tell that with focused effort, it would only take 10 minutes. My daughter had gotten started, but my son laid in his room exasperated, overwhelmed and withdrawn. I walked in and said in a positive tone, “Let’s get started. I’m here to help you. With a little bit of effort, we’ll be done in no time.” He moaned, saying he was too tired. And I knew he was. He’d been up almost every night that week with bad dreams, something that he’s dealt with on and off for a few years.
I reminded myself: I don’t have to choose between connecting with him, showing compassion and empowering him for his task. Lord, give me wisdom.
“What if every toy we touch is part of a story we’re creating?”