My daughter Elizabeth just turned four a couple of days ago. She is very proud of being a “big girl”. We had a blast celebrating her birthday.
Yesterday morning she sauntered into our bedroom as usual around 6:45 a.m. I woke up, gave her a hug and took her into her bedroom since my wife was enjoying her last few minutes of sleep.
We picked out her clothes for preschool. I grabbed her a pair of underwear and said, “Here put these on”. Her reaction was quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed with my kids.
She looked at the underwear and then noticed the tag. She looked at the tag. Then she looks right at me in the most serious and UPSET tone and says, “Daddy this says three. I’m NOT THREE, I’m four years old!”
The horror! The shock! Liz was offended that I’d ask her to put underwear on that were for three year olds. I chuckled a bit but I had to stop quickly. She’d get upset if she thought I was laughing at her. But seriously, I’m laughing out loud right now while typing this. It was so funny that she made the association to the size tag, thinking she was simply too old to wear those baby undies
Anyway, I knew she didn’t want to wear them because of the way she was framing them in her mind. So I quickly reframed the meaning of the 3. I said to her, “Elizabeth – that’s right. That tag says three. That means you have to be AT LEAST three years old to wear those underwear. Because you are four that means you are big enough to wear them”.
The reaction was instant. Her frown turned into a smile and she put them on.
The key to doing this right was:
- I was quick on my feet thinking of a way to reframe her way of looking at the whole underwear problem;
- I was congruent about my delivery. Congruence is the most important skill to learn. Look and sound like you mean it!
I hope you got a smile, a laugh, and some learning from this little story.
Remember that you can learn my language tools for parenting toddlers in my course, “Talking to Toddlers” which is available here, on this website.
Enjoy your children,