It’s not easy – is it?



I was at my grand daughter’s gymnastics class and overheard a small child sniffling and crying. She appeared to be about 3 years old, nicely dressed and hair done up with a bow. She was sitting on a young man’s knee, whom I surmised was her father. I overheard him saying over and over, “Now stop crying. You know how to say thank you. The lady gave you a treat and you say thank you. Do you want me to take you outside? Stop your crying now. You’re a big girl. You know how to say thank you. Stop your crying………”

The little girl kept crying and I could hear the tension increase in the man’s voice.She cried louder and he got louder. The man was wearing a uniform of some sort and it looked like he had just come from work. He struck me as someone who was used to his instructions being followed. Just when the girl’s sobbing had subsided, he started in again. “Now say thank you” and her tears were on again.  He finally took the little one outside and I could still hear him droning on. I’m certain whoever gave the child the treat was truly regretting it.

I felt his frustration. I’ve been there. You ask your child to do something and he doesn’t. It can be embarrassing. It can feel like defiance. A parent can feel a loss of control. It becomes a power struggle and I have learned that when you get into a power struggle with a child of any age, there are no winners. Believe me, if you can’t deal with this, wait until your teenager challenges you. {As an aside, never debate with a teen; teenagers are relentless.}

This is what I wanted to say to the father. Take a deep breath. Let it go. You are the adult here. This is not a reflection on your parenting. You are escalating the situation.

If this is an isolated incident and your child is generally polite and follows instructions, then something else is going on. Is your child tired? Overwhelmed? Shy of a stranger? Let it drop, take another deep breath and speak with your lovely daughter later when all is calm.

What I did do, was wander outside, smiled at the father and said “It’s not easy, is it?”


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