A young mom recently shared with me an incident with her son that showed how understanding expectations can help in parenting. This mom, (I’ll call her Angie, not her real name), was dealing with her seven year old, whose anger was ratcheting up by the minute. It had even come to the point of hitting and punching. In the midst on his outbursts and her growing frustration, she wisely stopped and asked him, “Do you want to do this?” His response gave some hope, since he stopped as well and replied, “No, mommy.”
Angie had recently been reading my book, so he brought the book to her as something to read to him. She told him, “this book reminds me of you”, which hooked him in to want to discuss this. “How come?” “Well, your anger seems to get out of control, but I don’t know what it is you expect.” Her son was quick to answer that, “Well, this morning you and dad said I couldn’t watch TV, but never said why. We usually get to watch TV every morning, so that made me mad.” His disappointment built into anger which percolated during the day and built to the rage she now faced.
Angie learned something: talk about expectations with your kids. Ask them what they expect, and why they expect it. Her son’s disappointment, which was real and understandable, set the tone for the day. It triggered the frustration and anger that ultimately resulted in his outburst.
Our children need to have a place to express their expectations, and we need to open that conversation by asking the question, “What do you expect?” When we find that out, we may be a lot closer to understanding what is behind their actions and behaviours. And to helping them gain some perspective and self control.
© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014
“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).