Monday, April 18, 2011

An Instance of Problem-Solving Between Parent and Child

(This post was originally published by Kelly at Reepicheep's Coracle.)

For the past few months, Livy has been shutting her door when she is alone in her room, playing or watching TV. I have always knocked and waited for an answer before I come in because that seemed respectful and kind. Lately, I have been getting the answer, "What?" when I knock.

I was bothered by this because it just sounds so cold. "What?" Not, "Yes?" or "Come in." I was starting to get super irritated by how rude this sounded, and it hurt my feelings a little because it felt like my presence was irritating to Livy and causing her to be rude.

Finally, I talked with her about it. I said, "Could you say something else when I knock on your door? 'What?' sounds very rude to me, and I'd like you to answer in some more polite way, like "Yes?" or "Come in." This didn't sound like a very big request to me.

Well, it was. She started to cry and said that she didn't want to say any other words but "What?" She said that she wasn't trying to be rude and that she didn't want to talk about this anymore EVER.

I pulled her into my lap and comforted her in her obvious distress. "We have a problem. We have to talk about. Do you need a break before we talk about it anymore?" No, she didn't want a break. Her attitude seemed to be that if we had to talk about this, we might as well get it over with. :)

I told her about how "What?" hurt my feelings because it seemed she never wanted me to come in. She cried more and told me that she didn't want to hurt my feelings, but she did not want to say any other words. She seemed adamant about not accepting any of my alternatives for "What?", and to this day, I have no idea why.

So I said, "I don't know what to do about this situation. I don't want to have my feelings hurt every time I knock. You don't want to say any words except the ones that sound rude. Do you just want me not to knock?"

At this, Livy brightened right up. She thought this was an excellent idea. I learned that really she didn't like to be interrupted by my knocking and her having to give an answer. If I just come in, she has a second to finish her thought, pause her movie, put her Lego in place, close her circuit, whatever, and then she doesn't feel like she loses her train of thought. She wasn't closing her door to have privacy; she told me that I can come in anytime I want and she'll never mind. She added that she never, ever wanted to talk about this again. Apparently what to say when someone knocks on your door is traumatic. :) I told her that we might want to talk about it again when she is older or if our plan doesn't work, but that for right now, we can drop the subject entirely.

The plan has been working: I have been walking right in, and she has been perfectly happy about it. I don't feel hurt by rudeness, she doesn't feel interrupted, and we understand each other a little bit better.

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