I recognize that I expect a lot from my boys. While they are 4 and 6, I sometimes forget that and expect for them to act like they’re teenagers. I get exasperated over things like purposefully dropping bits of food they don’t want (the orange peel or the dry crust) onto the floor instead of into the trashcan or the side of their plate. I go crazy when I see them do something like throw a big toy at the wall – trying to “bank” it into the toy basket – and dinging the wall along the way.
I forget that they are 4 and 6 year olds making mistakes and as a result I don’t always talk to them like they’re 4 and 6. Instead of a calm discussion, I tend to do more of a “are you kidding me – why are you dropping your peels on the floor?? PICK THEM UP NOOOOW.” (I’m like a hungry bear coming out of a winter hibernation – more of a growl than actual words.)
Basically, I expect them to respect me, but I’m not treating them with respect in how I communicate with them. I want them to act like an adult but I can assure you that my reaction and response would earn me zero friends in life if I talked to adults that way.
I’m recognizing more and more how much my communication style and responses are rubbing off on my kids. When they were younger, they’d shake off anything with a pleasant response, even if I was frustrated. Now, I’ve noted they’re starting to give it back to me – i.e. respond with disrespect when I give them disrespect.
It’s something I’ve noticed over the past month and SLOWLY, I’ve started recognizing the correlation between my communication and their communication and actions. And sometimes – if I’m lucky – I catch myself just before I start to rant and do a quick respect-check and change how it comes out.
This is slow going for me. My kids and husband would probably not even say it’s a noticeable change because I still let it slip too often. But it’s something to work on. Treating these guys the same way I’d treat a work acquaintance or close friend. Certainly they deserve AT LEAST that!