One day my middle child took a very looooong time getting ready. I checked on her, my oldest child checked on her, my youngest child checked on her and she still was not ready. When she finally emerged from her room, she asked why we were bothering her. I said, “We were waiting on you to go to the park and meet up with friends.” “Oh, I forgot”, she said. “Why didn’t you say that?! I would have hurried up.” I am laughing a little as I write this because all I had to do was remind her of the reason we needed her to hurry up. She did not realize what was at stake. Now I know to reframe the issue in terms my children understand more clearly. Since then I have tried the reframe strategy and it helps a lot. Two examples of ways you can use the reframe strategy are listed below.
Parent: It’s time to clean up.
Parent: The room is messy, clean up.
Child: What? Why?
Parent: Remember that when we have lego blocks on the floor, we step on them and get hurt. Now that you are finished with the legos, we need to clean up.
Child: Oooooh. Oh, right. It hurts to step on legos. Remember when I steppe don the blue one? I cried!
Parent: It does hurt. So let’s clean up.
The parent changed the frame from something she wants to a necessity for safety reasons. The adult can also offer to help the child clean up or make the activity into a game about colors, counting, or speed.
Parent: Please take the dog outside.
Child: No, I am busy with video games.
Parent: The dog needs to go outside to run otherwise he will chew our new toys because he will be hyper. My hands are full so I cannot do
Child: I am still playing video games, but I could do it in 15 minutes when I am finished with the games.
Parent: That sounds helpful and soon enough that the dog will be okay. I like that you offered a solution that works for both of us instead of sticking with “no”.
The parent did not back down when help was needed, however by explaining the situation in different terms, the child was better able to understand the parent’s viewpoint and offer a helpful solution. If there is no emergency, then it should be okay for a child to say they will help after a particular television show, board game, or phone call is complete. Both parent and child ought to be flexible when problem solving.
For more Parenting Tools, read my ebook titled Expand Your Parenting Toolbox: Create a More Peaceful Home.