It’s funny how when our children say things, we can hear something different. Take ‘I don’t want to go to school today’:
Sometimes we hear ‘I WON’T go to school today’
(‘Well you have to go’)
Sometimes we hear ‘I’m having problems at school’
(‘Why? What’s wrong with school?’)
Sometimes we hear ‘I think I can do anything I like and I don’t yet realise that I can’t’
(‘Well we all have to do things we don’t want to sometimes’)
Sometimes we hear ‘I don’t feel well’
(‘Why? What’s wrong?’)
Sometimes we hear ‘I have huge problems I can’t talk about’
(‘Oh dear, do you want to tell me about it?’)
Sometimes we hear ‘I’m too lazy to get out of bed’
(‘Well you can’t stay in bed all day’)
Sometimes we hear ‘I’m not sure of the value of education’
(‘Well if you don’t go you won’t learn anything and you don’t want to get behind’)
That’s probably not the end of the list of assumptions we bring to the simple expressed feeling ‘I don’t want to go to school today’ but it will do.
Depending on circumstances, like previous history of not wanting to go to school, our own beliefs about children, the personality of our child, and our own fears or expectations, we make assumptions about what our child is REALLY saying. We see a deeper hidden meaning behind the words, and this happens instantaneously, it’s not like we’ve thought about it and come to that conclusion based on any evidence. Then, rather than responding to what our child is actually saying, we respond to the assumption in our own head. It’s like having a conversation with ourselves really, the child might as well not be there.
When we say ‘I don’t want to go to work today’ we probably mean just that. We just don’t feel like it. We are still obviously intending to go. Let’s assume our children mean the same. In which case, there is a range of appropriate responses:
‘I don’t want to go to school today’
‘Don’t feel like it..?’
We could then get on with getting ready to go to school, with an absolute assumption that our child will go despite not feeling like it. Rather than expecting that the feeling will rule the child, we are trusting that the child is stronger than her feelings. Communication is so simple!