Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What are you going to do about that?

This is my current favorite phrase that has helped me stop the self-blame and at the same time raise more responsible children.

When the “I’m cold, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty” lines start coming, the “I can’t find my fleece” or the “I’m bored”s, I no longer own the problem. It is not my problem. I sigh or empathize then say these simple words, “What are you going to do about that?” The response is amazing.

I am happy to help them solve their problem, but it is so freeing not to get wrapped up in every crisis. They are ultimately responsible. It has been the most liberating feeling for me to embrace that phrase. Sure, I feel bad if they are hungry and I didn’t pack a snack, but we need to work together, and it is not my fault they are hungry.

They are learning to pee, eat, put on a coat etc. in anticipation of the own needs, and they seem quite willing to accept responsibility. I am happy to delegate it. The painful part of them learning is watching them fail, but my role is not to keep them from failing, but to be there to comfort them when they do and help guide them to do it differently the next time.

Oh yeah, and that phrase can work wonders with non-kids too.

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