Truth and grace …
The truth? Growing great kids is hard work.
The grace? We are in it together!
‣‣‣ Phil Day
Generally, there is no order as such in the way the tools in Toolkit have been displayed … except for this one.
The reason this is placed first as Tool~01 is to encourage a personal research approach to parenting and work with children and as a way of exploring all the other tools. Asked as, “What have you seen or heard or tried …” means it is an open ended question that invites more than just a ‘yes/no’ answer. It is an engaging question. This question becomes a useful tool when researching all other aspects of Toolkit. Using the metaphor of the ‘Toolkit’ it is a tool that sharpens all other tools.
You might start by explaining, “I’m researching parenting strategies from books, internet and friends … adding to what I’m trying at home with the kids, so … if you have a minute, I’d like to ask …
“Have you seen or heard or tried …
- anything that would help with making routines work?
- any activities that help meal times work better?
- any routines that help getting out the door with happy children and less stress in the mornings?
- different ways to reward good behaviour?
Asking the question in this sort of way allows an answer that is from a first or second hand experience. That’s OK. It may even attract a response, “I’d like to get some answers to that too! Can we do it together?”
Let’s try to avoid “You should … !”
What we want to try to avoid are judgmental or patronising reactions to our questions. We often attract this sort of response if we haven’t framed out research question correctly. If we say something like, “I’m really struggling with bed times at the moment … I’m pulling my hair out with the fight in our house EVERY NIGHT!!” While this may be true, asking for help in this way may lead to pity, contempt or judgment. Or it will degenerate into a mutual pity party. If this is what you would like, if a good whinge helps, then that’s OK, but it may not work towards a solution.
Listen and write
One way you may like to show you are serious about someone’s responses is by taking notes. Even if you are thinking an offered solution may not work for you, jot it down anyway and work out a way to adapt it or file it away for another time.
Ask clarifying questions if you are not sure how something actually works. Ask if the outcomes were always or only sometimes great; when did it work best and why?
Try and avoid responses such as, Yes, but … ” or “I could NEVER do that!!” Phrases like this tend to close down the conversations.
Say “Thank you!”
In thanking someone for their help and offering to let them know what you discover on your travels will keep the conversation open for next time.
This whole research approach also helps to convey that while you may not be committing to implementing any one solution, you are helping to build a positive environment for discussion about a very important topic!