We are in Day 4 of the school holidays and I am in a battle.
My plan for these first couple of days was simply to do ‘Nothing’ – on a normal day I’m a doer and am pretty busy so I had purposefully decided to just relax and rejuvenate over the Easter weekend. It doesn’t sound too bad, or too battle worthy, however, it may sound relaxed but because of my Judging tendencies I was going to fight for my relaxation cause that’s what I’d planned.
Hmmmmm – it doesn’t take much imagination to see that this is not going to go well. But the battle is not with my husband this time …. No it’s with my 7 yr old son.
When it comes to personality preferences my 7 yr old and I are pretty similar when it comes to our need for rules, plans, routine and organisation …. And he had different plans to me.
When we think about battle-grounds we often make the assumption that it is with people who are opposite in personality to ourselves – but this is not always the case, in fact it is often when organisation, and rules and plans clash between similar personality types that the battles really start.
Now, obviously I’m not drawing guns, and getting physical when it comes to a disagreement over the plans for the day with my son, and in fact most parents may not have even realised that there was a problem. But I knew.
We had tears at the drop of a hat, yelling because he NEVER got to do what he wanted, arguments over mealtimes, scowling over being asked to do things …. and it went on and on. And I let it – my mistake. I kept going down my path of relaxation, and I completely ignored what I knew about my son.
He loves school – not because it’s just school, but because it’s organised and routined, and he knows what’s happening in his day. In the holidays every morning he wakes up at home and asks “what are we doing today?” And my response is “Nothing” or it was very vague …. Instant internal stress for this kind of child – he doesn’t know what’s happening, and there is no plan. Of course he can’t articulate this – but every bad behaviour that is happening is a result of his internal personality not feeling safe.
We are essentially battling for the control of our day – and I was completely ignoring his need for the same thing as me.
So, what should I be doing?
– asking him in the morning if he had any ideas for the day
– keeping any loose plans as definite if I don’t want a meltdown
– giving him something, or some part, of the day that he can be completely in control of
– as the adult I need to let go of some of my own control, so that he can express himself too
This might seem quite complex and complicated, but it’s not really. Even this morning, as I started to clue into the source of the problem, I have responded differently to his need to know what’s happening, and we have been tantrum free so far today.
Defusing the battleground has made a big difference to my own happiness and my patience in general – absolutely worth taking the time to understand rather than just react to bad behaviour!