Three Scenarios

ID: A photo of a young toddler sitting on a countertop with a whisk in their hand. The whisk had something chocolate on it and the toddler is in the process of licking the chocolate off, making a mess all over their face. Text out to the side of the photo reads: “How you choose to see children makes a big difference in your reaction to them. If you see them as naughty and manipulative, you will react accordingly. If you see them as innocent and doing exactly what they are programmed to do, you are much more likely to react by nurturing and forgiving them.” The quote is attributed to Iben Sandahl. The image was made by @thedanishway.

Imagine three scenarios.

You’re holding your child on your lap. Your child is sobbing and screaming at the top of their lungs, curled up against you.

In one scenario, they have just tripped, fallen, and banged their head on the floor.

In a second scenario, their block tower has just fallen over.

In a third, they have just asked you for extra screen time, and you have told them no.

Most of us would feel the most empathetic in the first scenario, maybe moderately so in the second, and less or perhaps not at all in the third.

But the behavior is exactly the same. The screaming and the way it sounds in your ears is exactly the same. Why is your feeling in response to them different?

Because YOU interpret it differently: YOU are the difference.

The good news is that means that you can change it, because you can always change yourself. You can go through the motions even if you don’t feel it. You can comfort your child (and, if needed, still confidently hold a limit you believe is important) in all three of the scenarios. And the more you practice, the more it’ll become second nature.