I’m a divorced dad with two boys ages 9 and 11. My youngest son has challenges with transitions and wanting his own way. This causes power struggles with getting him out of bed. I came to Cynthia for help with his defiant behavior.
Cynthia’s been teaching me how to state an expectation or limit on my child clearly. For example, ” it’s time to get out of bed.” My son is so defiant that I can repeat myself several times and he’ll keep saying. “No, I’m not getting up.” We can even end up in a physical tug-of-war with me trying to take his blanket from him. It always turns out bad. This morning, to my amazement, I remembered to stop the power struggle, and respond with empathy.
Here is how it went.
Dad: It’s time to get out of bed.
Son: No. I don’t want to.
Dad: It’s time to get out of bed. (I grabbed the blanket and starting pulling it off. He grabbed it and pulled it back up.
Son: No. I’m not getting up.
Dad: (I stopped and thought. Why doesn’t he want to get out of bed? It’s warm in there. I’m going to try using empathy so I can connect with him as Cynthia’s been teaching me.)
Dad: it’s comfortable in bed. It’s nice and warm. It’s time to get up.
Dad: You like sleeping in. You can do that on the weekend. It’s time to get up and I can help you get your shirt on. (I’m thinking that the shirt will keep him warm.} His resistance decreased dramatically.
Son: I don’t want to get up. (Said with less anger and not fighting as much.)
Dad: I pulled back the blanket and helped him get his shirt on. Even though he said “No”, his actions of letting me help him said, “Okay.” Then he washed up and we had breakfast. Even breakfast time was easier with less negativity which he struggles with feeling.
I was quite proud that I could implement empathy statements under a tense situation with great results. In the future, I will think of his possible thoughts and feelings during his rebellion so I can connect to him while correcting his behavior. I believe he felt heard and understood which caused him to cooperate. This is the first step in teaching him to take responsibility for getting himself up on his own. Thank you Cynthia for your expert wisdom and advice.