Instead of a Command Say: “I Need Help.”
“I need help.”
It’s a little thing. There’s a difference between telling your kids what to do and admitting your need. It’s the difference between exasperation that they haven’t been thoughtful (left shoes in the hall, didn’t clear the table, made too much noise, were careless with the math book) versus asking them to be considerate of your needs (to not trip on shoes, to have a place to put lunch, to not be disrupted, to know where the math book is).
Your kids DO want to help. Often we frame our need for help through a command. We may get the obedience but that’s not the same thing as generous service.
I learned with my kids: I could ask for what I need. I could be vulnerable and honest.
“Guys! I can’t think straight. I see thousands of shoes down the hallway. It stresses me out. Anyone want to help me get them cleared up?”
“I want to get lunch ready. I could get it done faster if the table were clear. I need help. Anyone?”
“I’m about to work for the next hour. I’m worried about breaking concentration when it gets noisy. I need your help. What activity would you like to do that will help me get my work done that isn’t super noisy. Ideas?”
“I could cry. We don’t know where the math book is AGAIN? What’s up with that? I need your help. Let’s find it together. What can we do differently so it doesn’t go missing? Ideas?”
It’s a small thing. They may ignore the request (“No” is a true answer to a request—your kids know a command in disguise—they may test you). If you build a habit of truth-telling, owning your needs (not pretending you’re building their character or doing it for their own good), and asking for help,
You’ll discover that most kids have a reservoir of love for you if you build a habit of truth-telling:
- owning your needs (not pretending you’re building their character or doing it for their own good),
- and asking for help.
Children want your peace of mind, happiness, and to be of value. Flip side: help them too—freely.
Over time, you may notice a shift from resistance to mutual care. Even better: you’ll realize your well-being isn’t dependent on your children’s obedience. It’s dependent on your self-awareness—and that’s a skill they need too. So thanks for living and modeling it.
This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!