This weekend I was at the park with my two daughters while my wife was out for a few hours. The temperature is starting to get warmer in Toronto, but it was still barely above freezing. It was 3 degrees Celcius (37F). I had the girls dressed in winter coats, thin mittens, and thin hats.
It wasn’t the nicest day outside. It was pretty cloudy and wet. Besides us, there was only a father and his two sons at the park. The boys were probably 5 and 7. They were running around and happy.
But I noticed something odd. The younger boy had no coat on. He was running around with a short sleeve shirt and a pair of jogging pants. My assessment is that the father probably realized this was a bad idea. But I’m betting the kid would have thrown a tantrum if the father forced him to keep his coat on. So the father caved, and opted to instead risk his child get sick from exposure to the cold.
I realize that sometimes kids can be a handful. But let’s think about this trade off. Here we have a parent that consciously chose to allow his child to freeze in order to avoid a fight. That’s a bit crazy if you ask me.
Why am I so sure this was the trade-off? Because a few minutes later, after the boys stopped running around, the younger boy sat down on the slide. The slide was wet from the prior night’s rain. His pants got quite wet, and he started to complain. Then he started to cry that he wanted to go home. It was evident to me that this boy used the same tactic to get his Dad to let him take his coat off.
As someone who has studied hypnosis and NLP I’m taught to be observant of physical changes. This boy’s body position had changed and he was visibly cold. His skin color was more pale than a few minutes ago. He was holding his arms close to his body.
Did the father offer his son a coat? No. Instead he just (understandably) complied with the boy’s request to go home. But then the young boy said to his dad, “But I want to come back after I change my pants”. To this, the father said “No – we are going home and we’re staying home”. At this point, the boy’s crying turned from gentle sobbing into all-out screaming.
This was one of those times I wish the father had my audio course. He would have understood that there are easier ways to handle the situation. I always teach parents that saying “No” is a rapport-killer, and amplifies whatever negative state the child is already in. There are better ways to get the kids home without standing in the cold having a debate about whether you’ll all return to he park after changing. It would have been easy for the father to simply shift the conversation away from this debate.
In looking at my traffic on this blog, I see lots of traffic but not enough comments. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. What would you have done differently?
Enjoy your children,