In the lead up to Christmas the arrival of new and enticing objects in the home can put extra pressure on parents. A recent conversation with a mum, Hannah, highlighted how stopping herself from reacting in the moment to her child’s behaviour along with continued attunement and empathy enabled learning for her daughter and enjoyment for both of them in the lead up to Christmas.
16 month old Violet is fascinated by the Christmas decorations that have appeared in the house. Day after day, Violet goes to the Christmas tree and takes all of the balls off the tree abandoning them all over the living room. Day after day Violet’s mother Hannah picks them up and places them back on the tree.
After several days of this Hannah said she needed to stop herself and prevent herself reacting instinctively to Violet taking the balls off the tree and leaving them all over the living room. Hannah recognised her own feelings of annoyance. Hannah was thinking ‘I don’t need this, I’ve got so much to do today, I don’t need to pick up the balls and put them back on the tree again! Maybe I will get a cage to put around the tree like some of the other mums so Violet can’t get near it’.
As well as stopping and not reacting to Violet’s behaviour, Hannah tried to see things from Violet’s point of view; there was this new lovely sparkly thing in the room which had little shiny balls that were Violet’s hand size and many of them were at easy reach for her. Violet had seen her family putting the balls on the tree and she enjoyed being able to do something similar - take them off.
One day after she had taken all the balls off the tree again, without prompting, Violet started to put them back on the tree! Hannah was elated. Not only did this mean there would be less picking up of Christmas tree balls for her, her daughter had learned a new skill and most importantly they continued to enjoy the lead up to Christmas together without discord and tension.
We encourage adults to think about being a Christmas STAR for their child:
S - STOP, don’t react straight away to your child’s behaviour. Think about how this behaviour is making you feel
T – THINK, what emotion might be going on for my child right now
A - ATTUNE yourself with that feeling and empathise with them
R - REFLECT, if attunement is tricky at first try and think of a similar situation for you as an adult