I’m excited to welcome Nathan McTague back as we discuss some questions that listeners sent in. We heard from many of you that you enjoyed our discussion about raising emotionally-healthy boys, and we hope you enjoy the Q&A as well. We’ll be spending the next three episodes on listener questions.
In this episode, we start with early life and the developmental process that happens, and weaving in empathy and connection as our children grow into adults.
Question: Why can’t my kid just wipe?
Let’s talk about that in terms of boundaries and connection. How can a parent navigate that and help them as their child grows?
Remember that wiping is a complex motor, and a certain amount of empathy and understanding go a long way. They’re going to be experimenting and trying to get a handle on this skill, and it may take a while. It’s also worth it to think about how we may feel we should be able to show them once and then be done. But there are actually multiple levels to any task. We’ll need to keep checking in or add in the next level strategies. So we can talk with them about how to wipe, then check back to see their progress, and be patient. Hold back from methods or strategies that end up being coercive. (“I’ll give you candy if you go on the potty,” or shaming if they have an accident. Avoid those extremes.)
Connection is a great strategy. Find out what your kids’ interests are. Some kids are really goal-oriented and will want to get this down. Have a discussion to discover what is really going on underneath the lack of motivation. Nathan shares a lovely story about how he connected with one of his daughters around this topic and it took the stress out of it, ultimately strengthening their relationship.
One of the biggest topics in this episode is respect. Respect isn’t just a one-way street. It’s important to respect your child and find a way to co-create a solution. It wasn’t until after Nathan really listened to his daughter, and she knew he really got her that she could hear what he was trying to say.
We want our children to respect themselves, but we also have to respect them. We have to show them what respect looks like. We can’t expect them to just to respect themselves and us when they’re teens.
When we’re asking for respect, we’re not modeling it. It’s only when we get in the habit of showing them that we respect ourselves and showing that we respect them that they get how to actually respect themselves.
In so many parenting situations, whatever the current thing is that you’re trying to work on, sleep or bathroom, siblings, trouble at school, it’s the same thing- the method is almost always connect first, share the respect and help them develop that way of relating to themselves and others. Connect with them and be in connection with them.
The lovely thing about it is that we teach them to do it by doing it, and it helps them to develop a way of being that is connective with themselves and others. You make it happen by doing it over and over again.
We’ll be back next week with another listener question!