“I never even get to do anything fun.”
This has been a staple in L’s (the youngest boy’s) repertoire of manipulative language lately. He’s 4-1/2 and intense. Bowling, movies, comic book store… none of it satisfies. At the end of the day, we’re consistently met with whining and grumpy, ungrateful behavior.
I need to improve relationships at home, particularly with L. Yesterday, I asked you all on Facebook if you had any suggestions on how to curb this whining. And of course, being the awesome bunch that you are, you did! Irene and I agreed that trying to infuse an experience with an infectious attitude generally leads to disappointment and regret. Kell suggested plenty of early expression of expectations with clear consequences, and that my own lowered expectations might better prepare me for the outcome. But then, my low expectations set me up for feeling disengaged, which would defeat the purpose of doing fun things with him.
Then I thought, the answer lies somewhere with the idea of acceptance. But I’m so tapped out lately mentally/emotionally that I can’t seem to find the mindfulness to accept things for the way they are. So in an effort to fill my own bucket, I need to set up the family for some successful experiences so I’m actually in a better place to accept when things don’t go the way I’d like.
But how do you create that successful experience in the first place?
Samantha, Joanna and Teri also joined the conversation. They also had great thoughts. Read the entire thread here.
I suspect that it all comes down to investment. I’ve been thinking about what I can do to involve and connect with him, rather than allowing him to create the context and connect with me. Context is part of what builds understanding of the world around us, so it makes sense to allow the boy to have a hand in constructing the context. And I have to imagine that his involvement in planning will help him feel more invested in the experience. Maybe he’ll take a little more responsibility for his reactions. Dunno.
Teri made a great point: watch the way I word things and put him in charge of having fun. I do ask loaded questions like “Did you have fun?”, which he takes as an opportunity to ruffle feathers by saying “no.”
So this weekend, we’re going to do something fun that L wants to do. I’ll put him in charge of having fun. I’ll ask “What was your favorite part about today?” instead of asking him a question loaded with an expectation. Then I’ll report back next week to let you all know how things turned out.
As Samantha put it, we’re “building a mental scrapbook.” Time to make some memories.