This week's tool card was: Back Talk. The card says that when you respond to your child's back talk with more talk you create a power struggle. Remember last week we talked about the brain, and how sometimes we lose control of our emotions, we flip our lids and respond with our non-thinking brains. Another important thing to know is that we all have mirror neurons in our brains. These neurons are great from a Montessori perspective. We give "lessons" to children in the Montessori classroom by performing the action while the child observes, their mirror neurons pick it up and then they get the opportunity to repeat the exercise as many times as they like until they have mastered the skill involved. The negative side of these neurons is that they sometimes cause us to repeat negative behaviors that we observe.
A frequently occurring example of this happens in my home. My husbands asks our five year old to sit down on her bottom while she is eating. She sits for a minute and then is back up on her knees or feet moving around. He asks her again, this time a little frustrated, so he adds in an annoyed explanation as to why she should sit while eating. Her mirror neurons react and she responds with an annoyed, "I AM sitting down". When of course she wasn't. His mirror neurons fire and he responds with, "no you weren't, I just saw you hoping around on the bench". This goes on and on for a while, until one of them flips their lid and either something gets spilled or broken or someone says something they don't mean. It is a definite power struggle that no one wins! It isn't always my husband that gets sucked into these situations either.
We have really been working on the suggestions on the card. We have been trying to validate her feelings, acknowledging how she feels often is enough to stop the cycle. We also try to take responsibility for our part in the argument. If the situation continues to escalate we try to take some time to cool down so that we can be respectful of each other. This is something we get to work on together very often. Hopefully, we will master this tool very soon!
Next week we will work with Winning Cooperation.