I got blooded a week or two back! This was a good thing for two reasons...
I was feeling proud of myself because, for the evening routine (probably my most challenging time of day), I decided I was going to dig deep deep down to find some little smidge of remaining energy, and use it to join in with the 'over-exuberance' as I term it - tell me it's not just our family that has a five year old bouncing off walls (literally at times), using a delightful tone of voice that grates on the nerves, and getting all up in their younger sibling's face just before bedtime?!!
Anyway, I'm not what I like to call a 'fun mum'. While I am pretty fab (I think!!) at long, intellectual conversations about how rainbows are formed/where the world came from/why koalas aren't monkeys, cuddles, reading stories and that sort of thing, I generally find it a challenge to engage in rough or really silly play, and have to really psych myself up to do it. I do enjoy it when I can muster the energy, and I'm working on it, as I do think it's an important part of maintaining connections with children (read Playful Parenting - or visit the website - for more on this), but it's not something that comes easily to me.
So, I'm putting a lot of effort into enjoying being leapt on, poked, shouted out etc, and I actually AM having fun, and we are all laughing our heads off about it, and not worrying too much that it's getting a bit late and we've still got all the chores to do.
And then #1, in the heat of the action (and let me stress, this was in no way done with any intent to hurt), grabs my face with his little pointy fingernails - ouch!
I calmly said something along the lines of 'When you grab me with your nails, I don't like it, because it hurts me' (I am working on this sort of wording from Parent Effectiveness Training - a book I would HIGHLY recommend) - rather than the more confrontational 'Don't grab me' sort of thing, and number one (who had stopped immediately anyway thank goodness, on my 'ouch'!) said 'sorry mummy' and that was that, as I thought at the time.
A little bit later, I glanced in the mirror and realised a little blood had been drawn. I didn't want to guilt trip #1 or sound cross (especially when he had stopped straightaway, and apologised), but I wanted him to notice the effects of his actions, so I casually pointed the blood out to him. Immediately there was empathic sadness in his face, and he said so tenderly, "Aw, sorry mummy" and gently touched my face. It was very heart felt, but didn't sound like he felt I'd made him feel bad, so much as wanting to make me feel better. So it would seem that blood equals sympathy - it's a start!!
Now I just have to muster energy whenever I can to do more rough play (especially at those difficult times), and hope that any more injuries are met with such compassion!!
Other articles you might be interested in:
- Some nice ideas here - although I'm not mad keen on the TV and questioning parts - but that's a whole nother post! Teaching Empathy to Children
- This has links to useful articles: Nurturing Empathy in Children
**This post is for you Rita - with so much love xx**