My business partner, Jennifer, walked into work the other day looking like ‘Tigger’. You know, big smile, bouncing up and down. I had to ask, “Okay – What gives Tigger?”
Her face lit up as she started to recount her morning drive.“I was driving home from the dentist,” she began, “and Jessie (4) and Elizabeth (7) were in the back seat of the car giggling and laughing and cuddling, as best they could in their car seats.”
Still looking like Pooh Bear’s bouncy buddy, she continued on, “Then, all of a sudden, Elizabeth decided she was bored with the giggling and began teasing Jessie. I had about 30 seconds to grab hold of a strategy that would keep the whole situation from turning into a screaming match with those two.”
When I heard this, I knew exactly where this classic parenting story was coming from… and where it might end up!
Here is what it looks like in most families:
- The kids start to fight
- Mom (or Dad) starts yelling at the kids to stop fighting
- Now the parent and the kids are fighting
- The kids get dropped off at school feeling miserable (but only until they find their friend on the playground)
- Mom or Dad cools down and starts to feel – well – guilty about the way the morning drive went and often confused and frustrated about all the fighting
- Mom or Dad arrives at work upset and looking more like Eyeore then Tigger.
These same parents might spend the next 2 hours calling each other or friends, confessing how awful they feel about the fighting, admit that they don’t know WHY they snapped and promise NEVER TO DO IT AGAIN.
Of course, the real problem is that so many parents out there who experience car rides that include fighting have no idea what the root causes are and are, therefore, clueless on what to do the next time it happens… and we all know, there WILL be a next time!
OK, OK. So What Happened Already?
Jennifer continued, “I know Elizabeth is a power child and often looks for a way to feel capable. And, I remember you explaining that she could either pick a fight with her sister, or I could give her another option to focus on. So, I went back to the Crucial Cs.”
The rest of the story between Jennifer and her loveable power child went something like this.
“Hey, Elizabeth… I forgot exactly where we are going. Do you remember?”
“What?” Elizabeth asked with a confused but curious look on her face.
“I know we’re heading home, but did we have to stop somewhere along the way?”
And, so it began. The shift which allowed the very capable child to forget all about teasing her sister, and shift her focus to something useful, which keeps ALL of them out of the Rabbit Hole.
The Crucial Cs Are Powerful, Proactive Tools for Parents
A fundamental component of this program is that you can discover why your kids do what they do and when that happens, the mystery is solved. When, once you understand why your children do what they do, you are free to create a plan which you can use in a multitude of situations – a plan that helps your children move their focus from a useless behavior to one that is useful today and on into the future.
All Elizabeth wanted was a job – something to do that would keep her from being bored and would allow her to fill her need to exercise her capabilities. Teasing was an option until her equally capable, and increasingly confident mom, provided her with something more interesting and more important to do.
And thus a happy end to Tigger’s tale.
We would like to acknowledge Drs. Betty Lou Bettner and Amy Lew for developing the Crucial C’s. More information on the Crucial C’s can be found in their book Raising Kids Who Can.