Carol M. Welsh, Author
The following is an excerpt from Carol’s book Stop When You See Red
When you understand your children’s four perceptual styles (Audio, Feeler, Visual, Wholistic), you realize that they really are born with instructions. Yet, even though you understand that you need to approach an Audio child differently than you do a Wholistic child, you can still be frustrated with your attempts to rectify a situation if you end up with discouraging results.
Sometimes I have to be discouraged before I remember to ask for help. When I’m seeking inspiration, I simply think, “I need some help” and then listen to the inner voice. However, sometimes we respond to an innovative idea that just pops into our head without asking and marvel that it worked. The following is a story of a husband and wife who came up with an innovative plan that brought home a lesson to their young son.
When Wholistic children work on a project, once they understand how it works or what the end results will be, they become bored with the project. This creates unfinished projects or sloppy work. If an uncompleted project doesn’t affect anyone else, then it’s not a problem. But when it affects others, creative parenting may find a solution.
Eddie’s parents, Trish and Ed, were innovative in their approach with Eddie, 7, when he continued to leave a trail of unfinished projects and tasks. He seemed bored with everything. Out of desperation, they tried an experiment. They agreed to stick to it for one day.
The plan began on Saturday. Eddie arrived at breakfast expecting pancakes. There was batter but no pancakes. “When are the pancakes going to be ready, Mom?” he asked.
“Oh, I don’t feel like making them,” she replied. “I’ve changed my mind. You’ll have to make your own.” Puzzled, Eddie poured some batter on the griddle and proceeded to make his own while his mother read the paper.
“Come on, Eddie, let’s get your brakes fixed,” his father said. They started working on the bike when Ed said, “Uh-huh, so that’s the problem.” He got up and walked away. Finally, Eddie went to look for his father and discovered he was watching TV!
“Dad, what are you doing? I thought we were going to fix my bike!”
“I’ll be there in a minute,” he said. After waiting for 15 minutes, Eddie went looking for his father again. “Dad,” he asked, puzzled, “you said you were coming in a minute but you didn’t come.”
“What do you do when it’s time to take out the trash or you’re supposed to clean up your room?” Ed asked. Comprehension flickered in Eddie’s eyes. His father continued to watch television.
For lunch, Trish prepared hamburgers. Eddie looked at his plate and wailed, “What happened to my hamburger? It’s a mess!” The hamburger was broken in several pieces. The ketchup and pickles were messed together in a heap, but not on the burger. The bun was a pile of crumbs.
“Oh, I just didn’t feel like doing it right,” his mother said matter-of-factly. “It all tastes the same, so what difference does it make? Just use a spoon instead of your hands.”
Incredulous, Eddie began to eat with a spoon. After lunch, Trish told him to clean up his room and then they would go to a late matinee. Eddie grumbled and went to his room. When it was time to leave for the movie his father called out, “It’s time to go!”
Eddie came running out of his room in anticipation. When his parents went to check his room, as usual they discovered only a halfhearted attempt had been made. Trish put on her gardening gloves, and Ed headed for the car. He called out, “I’m going to the hardware store. Be back in a while.”
Confusion swept over Eddie’s face. “But, but … the movie,” he stammered.
“You didn’t clean up your room,” his mother explained. Then she sat down with him. “As a family, it’s important we each do our part. If we don’t do something because we don’t feel like it, how’s it going to affect the other person? When you don’t take out the trash, what happens? It gets smelly in the garage. When we ask for your help and you keep saying, ‘in a minute’ but you don’t come, it upsets us. How did you feel when Dad didn’t finish fixing the brakes on your bike?”
“It made me mad,” Eddie said.
“Well, it makes us mad, too, when you don’t cooperate. As a family, we need to work together as a team. For supper we’re going to grill some chicken and have corn on the cob. What can you do?”
“I’ll set the table,” Eddie replied.
“I can help clean the corn.”
“What about after dinner?”
He sighed. “I’ll clean off the table.”
“Before we can start dinner, what haven’t you finished?”
“I’ll clean up my room,” Eddie mumbled.
“Why?” asked Trish.
“Because I have to.”
“Why?” Trish asked again. Eddie paused. She continued, “We’re all part of a team. Each of us has our own responsibilities and things we do together as a team.” Then with a burst of enthusiasm, she said, “Let’s have a race. Let’s see how fast we can get your room cleaned up!” Together, they raced to the room. Soon they came out, laughing, and headed for the kitchen. They got the corn shucked and Eddie set the table while Trish marinated the chicken.
After dinner Eddie cleared the table while his mother filled the dishwasher. As the three of them left the house to go to the movies, Trish said, “Are we a team or what?” The three gave each other the high-five and headed for the car.
In my book, Stop When You See Red, I talk about words and actions that lead to discouraging results and what you can do instead to have encouraging results. However, for those who go one step farther, which I call the “Five-Star Efforts,” I praise those creative parenting techniques when they let inspiration take over, as in this example. Sometimes children need to experience what you are feeling, rather than hearing you say for the umpteenth time to clean their room. It’s easier for them to understand the concept of why they need to clean their room or to be a responsible member of the family team.
Copyright © 2005-2006 Carol M. Welsh. All Rights Reserved