Positive Parenting: Get Some Perspective

On a recent weekend we were visiting relatives – this happens a lot in the summer – and we went to church with them. Sally sat through the service with us, because the church did not have Sunday school or even a nursery during the service. She did a pretty good job, for the most part, but like any young preschooler she was a bit antsy.

Toward the end of the service, Sally started to get especially wiggly. I picked her up and held her, shushing her and telling her to sit still.

Come on, Sally, I whispered loudly in her ear. Just sit still, stop wiggling! 

After spending the service helping keep her still, I was feeling a bit annoyed, and I was starting to let it show. Then I realized something. I was thinking of my needs and seeing things from my perspective rather than considering Sally’s needs or perspective. I immediately realized how hard it must be being for Sally to stay still for so long, and that my slightly-annoyed whispers were surely not making it any easier. And so, with that new perspective, I started over.

Sally, I whispered, I know it must be really hard to sit still like this! You’ve been doing such a good job! Mommy’s so proud of you! The service is almost over, you only have to sit still a little bit longer, and I think you can do it, big girl!

And with that, Sally smiled and stilled. A few minutes later the service ended, and she hopped off my lap.

I think it’s important for me to be reminded every so often that when I work with Sally there are always two perspectives involved – mine and hers. If I think only of myself, I miss that this other little person has her own thoughts and feelings and her own perspective. And, if I try to see things from her perspective for a moment, that can change things completely.

But this isn’t just true of when I work with Sally. In any argument or situation with conflict, there are always two perspectives. It’s easy to forget that the other person is a person just like you and instead focus only on how you see things and the wrong the other person may have done you, but it’s a lot more productive if you stop to remember that the other person is just as much a person with hopes and dreams and feelings as you are, and that that other person has his or her own perspective as well.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Christine

    This, totally this! It makes me angry when I see parents out with their kids and the kids are whining and fussing and the parent just yells at them to stop. The kid is trying to tell them something and they brush it off. Communicating with kids is so important! Giving them the time to be able to form thoughts and express them clearly without being interrupted is also really important.

    If a kid asks me a question I always take the time to answer it as best as I can. I never say “you dont’ need to know” or “i’ll tell you when you’re older” or any of the other go-to responses that are out there to get kids to go away.

    Thank you for communicating!!!

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