Driving me bananas: when kids refuse to go along

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My tendency to mislabel my kids surfaced when our middle child was less than a year old. She knew her own mind from the moment she arrived on the planet, but she wasn’t talking yet.

“Don’t you want this banana? Bananas are yummy,” I coaxed the adorable child in the high chair before me. All young mothers everywhere know that babies love bananas. Plus, baby humans need potassium. Good mothers must feed their babies bananas. My mind logically processed my perspective right up until she could tell me hers.

“Mommy, bananas make my throat scratchy and hard to swallow,” she finally said in her adorable baby voice when she was finally old enough to talk. It’s a wonder she didn’t go into anaphylactic shock in her high chair! She taught me to ask better questions. Paying attention to what children don’t say turns out to be genius.

When children refuse to go along with our plans, smart parents ask good questions. Toddlers may stubbornly refuse to switch gears. Teenager can make life miserable in their own ways. Raising independent thinkers challenges the best parents. No matter their age, children may not articulate their reservations well. After all, communication is a learned skill.

Days when kids refuse to go into school or church take their toll on parents. It’s easy to mislabel a child as a troublemaker

There’s one in every family; the troublemaker. One child determines to do things his way or else. Too often parents respond to independent children by labeling the child as rebellious. Mislabeling a child buys mom or dad years of pain and frustration.

Instead, a simple question can prompt lightbulb moments with your child. “Aha!” Especially with independent thinkers, good questions can totally change the dynamics.

Growing up, I specialized in independent thinking. My poor parents. I guess there’s justice in the world, though, since I raised independent thinkers as well.

As a young wife and mother, tactfulness was such a novel approach for me that for a while I memorized new ways to speak and ask. Providing your child is old enough to talk, I guarantee these two good questions will start some doozy conversations. Can you explain that to me a little more? What about this situation should I understand better?

Terrific discussions often follow, once we’ve identified our child’s concrete objections. Obviously, parents still make the final decision, but showing respect quickly comes back to bless us all.

Listening to our kids respectfully and asking good questions trains them to care for us in our old age. When we are toddling around on our walker, they will be prepared to treat us with patience and understanding, too. Now that’s worth going bananas over!

Cathy Primer Krafve, aka Checklist Charlie, lives and writes with a Texas twang. Comments are invited at cathykrafve.com.

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