Sometimes, our children challenge us in Special Time. They use the safety of Special Time, when we have agreed to do whatever they want, to push us, test us, to see just how serious we are about our commitment to following their lead.
And there is something powerful about this kind of turning the tables – this mother’s daughter decided on the challenge, and dispensed the reward. How often does a child have the chance to do that with an adult? It’s almost always that adults decide the challenge, and hand out the rewards.
And this is what builds the emotional safety our children need – they use Special Time in this way to build “relationship credit” with us – so that when things get hard, and we have to set a limit, they can draw on the knowledge that even in those tough moments, we are really on their side.
Here’s a great story from Hand in Hand Instructor Tara McCay[i].
Tonight I had Special Time with my other 10 year old. I was ready to follow her lead, and oh my!
It began with a request for a cupcake, a leftover frozen one. Which I promptly defrosted and she gobbled up. I thought that was the test, then we’d play.
I was told to put on my swimsuit. It’s 10/11, and fall in Arizona. Ok it’s still 90+ degrees during the day, but I don’t get into the pool in October!
Well, playing along I put on my suit. She then covered my eyes with a blindfold, and told me that I was to walk around the backyard pool, blindfolded. The bathing suit was in case I fell in! Did I mention this was at 7 pm and it was dark outside?!?
She totally was testing my mettle. And she knew it. I was told that if I didn’t fall in, I was to jump or get pushed.
I was not allowed to use my hands, and was directed to walk around the pool. I did so, very hesitantly, for I had no desire to fall in. I was not as, shall I say, effusive in my excitement to play along, and she nearly quit the request for I was being rather timid. I had to self-correct, and agreed to jump in should I not fall. And I had no intention of falling.
After walking most of the way around, she told me she likes pushing people past their comfort zones. And she then told me I was to take off the blindfold and jump in. AAAAAH! I didn’t want to do that.
But, well trained by years of Hand in Hand and Listening Time, I goofed off but jumped in.
It wasn’t as cold as I thought.
I was promptly rewarded with a towel, warm pajamas and a cuddle in my bed. She told me that once she pushed my comfort zone, she would reward me with something I loved.
What a wise kid. How did I get so lucky?
[i] You can find this story originally posted here. Thanks to Tara for agreeing to share it here.
The featured image on this page is Woman Swimming by César Rincón CC-BY-2.0
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© 2020 by Madeleine Winter.