Szenario at our house: My son loves to eat omelettes for breakfast. So I make him one. He looks at it, tries it half heartedly and turns to me “Mama, I don’t like it. It’s too brown and too hard.”
Just a couple of months ago my response would have been: A “Come on, it’s not that dark and it’s not hard at all! I’m not going to waste an egg for that. Please eat as much as you can and then we can see if you get another.” Or I could have even added: “You know, there are people in this world that don’t have any food and they would be very pleased to get such a nice omelette!”…
Now I know to do much better. My answer was: B “Ok, honey no problem. I’m sorry I overcooked it a bit. I’ll make you another one. Thanks for telling me.”
For me this is a big change! I hate to waste food, money, time, energy and everything else can can be wasted….
But here is why I went through this big change
My son has a very hard time communicating his needs. E.g. instead of saying ‘I am upset that we are going someplace I don’t want to go.’ or ‘I really don’t want to sit in the car anymore.’ or ‘I am bored, please entertain me.’, he grunts and kicks the driver’s carseat and screams and makes everybody in the car uncomfortable and annoyed.
Playing with other children is hard for him too, because instead of using his words, he uses his body and rolls over other kids who are confused about his way of getting in contact with them.
So, I really want to support him in using his words to express his feelings and his needs. And in his comment about the omelette , he exactly does that.
Giving him response A would make him feel not understood. He could question his view, his taste and his opinion. Getting a response like this often makes children unsure about their own feelings. They feel out of control about their own life. They feel not enough to be cared for or worthy. They loose trust in themselves and stop communicating at all, because why would they even bother if nobody believes in their feelings anyway? And this can be the beginning of losing motivation in other parts of their lives, too.
In psychological terms it’s called gas-lighting when something said is totally negated. Child:’It’s overcooked.’ Parent: ‘No, it’s not overcooked’. At the end ‘overcooked’ can be different for everybody… Can you see that many of these kind of answers a day will do a lot of damage in a child’s mind?!
I am talking from experience here, because that’s exactly what happened to me as a child. I lost my voice…
With response B on the other hand, I strengthen my son’s confidence and the trust in himself. He feels worthy and heard and part of our family. His sense of belonging is supported. He feels enough. He feels in control about his body and his needs and he gets motivated to communicate his feelings more often.
By seeing my child and his needs and trusting him and fulfilling his wish of a less cooked omelette, I stay in connection with him. I show him that I love him and that he is more important to me than the concern of wasting an egg.
Of course, I don’t like to waste food. But in this situation I need to think about what’s more important to me and for sure the answer is to stay in connection with my child ❤
And it’s not like I am going to waste an egg every day now… because from now on I take good care that the omelette does not overcook and that I make is perfect for him every day. And maybe some day he will change his mind and like it better more crispy and that will also be ok, because it’s human to change our minds sometimes 🙂
With much love and gratitude,