Let me start out by reminding you about my 3 year old daughter, Honor. She’s the one always wearing the princess clothes … The one that had a Princess Birthday Party … She has no doubt that she IS a princess.
For months now Honor has REFUSED to wear socks. It started in the spring … I figured maybe her feet got too hot. And, because it was spring I wasn’t too worried about it. Until there came a time when I needed her to wear socks … and then it was an outright battle. There was crying and yelling … and then I stopped and asked her, “WHY don’t you want to wear socks?” And she said plainly,
“PRINCESSES DON’T WEAR SOCKS.”
And she’s right. We looked through all her princess books … she showed me the evidence. Princesses DON’T wear socks … they have bare feet or slipper-like shoes or high heels … but NEVER any socks. Hmmm. She’s got a point.
And had I just asked her from the beginning WHY she didn’t wear socks, I could have understood her dilemma and helped her work through it … rather than having a battle of the wills.
And I KNOW THIS. Time and time again I hear (either in words or in their play) from the children I work with that if their parents WOULD JUST LISTEN things would be better. They tell me about why they acted a certain way … they didn’t want to do something because they were scared/confused/angry … but the parent didn’t realize, or take the time to recognize, what was going on. They didn’t put themselves IN THEIR CHILD’S SHOES.
There’s always a lot of different aspects going on as a parent … meal planning, house cleaning, educational concerns, multiple children, etc … and a parent can’t be focused 24/7 on a single child (even if the child is an only child). That’s a luxury I get when I work with a child as their therapist. It’s my job to focus on them and try to understand how it feels to be in their shoes. And then help the child and the parents understand too.
As a parent, and person, I’m far from perfect … I’m human and make mistakes too. I can’t ALWAYS take the time to understand everything that is going on behind my children’s eyes … but every now and then … like when I want to pull out my hair and run away screaming … I NEED to stop and think about what it’s like to be in their shoes … with or without socks!