The pay-off of politeness

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I wonder if this is something that is true for your difficult children?
    I have noticed that the more courteous and affectionate I am with J, the more reasonable and mature he can be with me. So this evening I picked him up after school, bringing with me a variety of snacks (well, better late than never...) that he ate hungrily. Then we took the dog for a walk in the vineyards around here - mountains in the distance, lush vegetation everywhere. I felt conscious of being really "present", in the moment - enjoying the walk, all that we were seeing. J was sweet, affectionate, wanting to hold my hand and pick flowers for me. Then, on the way back, I decided to go to the next village to buy some bread. As we approached the shop, J started his usual mantra of wanting a toy, could he have a toy, etc. This usually irritates and stresses me somewhat but tonight I was careful to keep very even and relaxed in my tone - still refusing, just explaining I needed my money for food... Then we saw a new playground, one we haven't used before, so stopped and J had a good time playing in it for 20 minutes (incidentally, he is getting SO strong on the monkey bars!). He was co-operative and pleasant. Back in the car I said to him - instinctively knowing it would be okay - very evenly again, and conversationally "Now, J, we are going to the shop and I'd like to go in just to look at food and we're not buying any toys or talking about toys, okay?" And he instantly replied, equally evenly, a mini-grown up "Oh, yes, Mummy, that's fine. I don't want any toys until next year anyway!" This is a BIGGIE for me... so rare thatI take him into shops because it often turns into such a fiasco, either because he's racing around or whining for toys and here he was, off his own bat, just maturely agreeing to behave... All because we had established a relationship of trust and harmony at that point.
    Makes you wonder. To what degree do you find this operates this way?
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Big time. Major. My difficult child is extremely perceptive... which means he knows my moods better than I do, and plays off of them. He doesn't know how to handle the info that his perception provides - that will only come with maturity and experience. But... If I'm upset, guaranteed upset from difficult child. If I'm "absent", difficult child will be too.
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure if I have ever got better behaviour out from my difficult child (or easy child) by being polite. But you can bet that I got bad behaviour out from my difficult child (and sometimes even easy child) hundred times by being short with them or being in the bad mood or busy. There is absolutely not surer way for example to get a young child to stall than tell them to hurry up...
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Lol, SuZir. Guess it all comes down to intention... I have often been surprised by how eager to please and/or contrite J can seem after being "naughty" or "rude". Then it occurs to me that this is because the naughtiness and rudeness were impulses that he couldn't actually really control... Which is perhaps why being polite and respectful to him work well - because they allow him to give the best of himself and allow his intentions to shine through more than the impulses. If that makes sense :)
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think this is true for most people. Years ago husband and I were in a parents' group at the children's hospital while Wiz was in a kids group. One of the things that we were asked to do was to define what qualities a bad boss had and a good boss had. Then we were asked to see our actions as parents in light of these groups and to figure out where our behavior belonged. All of us found that our kids gave us far better behavior when we were good bosses than when we were bad bosses.

    It was an interesting exercise and a very helpful one. It is something that I try to remember and refresh myself on when we re having problems with the kids' behavior.

    I have even found help reading books for managers. one of my faves is called "Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment". It is not a long book, but has some great ideas and ways to look at things.
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Malika... the old saying is: "Children learn what they live."
    Which means - we can try to teach them all sorts of things, but nothing speaks as loudly as how they are treated.
    The closer they are to NT, the more this works... somehow, extreme difficult children aren't quite that way.
    But for a kid like J, who "gets it" but can't quite "do it" consistently... there is nothing like consistent modelling of the desired behaviour.

    (how's that for pressure?!)
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Actually, last couple of days I've really been thinking I need to help coach J about social things. I agree - I think how I myself behave and interact with J is probably really vital. Because he needs all the help with this that he can get. If anything tells me that J has ADHD, actually, this is it... I've done a bit of investigation on the net and there is SO much stuff about how ADHD kid have trouble with peers and social relationships. And many of the articles seem to describe J to a T - aggressive, dominating, impulsive in their relationships. I do see him getting into a negative pattern with relationships and it is SO vital to avoid this. Part of me does not want to behave as if J is a special case, needing "charity" but if the goal is to help him make and keep friends, I think I need to do all I can - so if we are still at the village school in September I think I might go and see a couple of the parents of the kids J plays with at school and, if it feels right, explain that J has probable ADHD and that I'd like to invite their kids regularly to the house to help him play co-operatively, under supervision. At the moment, J just doesn't get invited to other kids' houses - because, presumably, the other parents don't want the noise, hyperactivity, etc. But I have to take action to stop J feeling like he's got the plague or something...
    I did actually talk to him this morning about the things you do to keep friends, and how important friends are in making you feel happy and good about yourself. I don't know what effect, if any, it can have because of course the problem is not really what he knows but the impulses he has in the moment... but it can't do any harm to spell it out to him. And I will talk about this to the psychiatrist when I see her in July and say this is my main concern with J, the social problems.