Do you like to tackle problems head-on, or would you rather avoid them?
All of a sudden, I seem to be an expert in getting my children to stop fighting in the car. I don’t know if it is their age, or if I have woken a previously-unknown talent within, but whatever it is, I like it.
Have you read the book, Mad in the Back by Michael Rosen? If your children make you lose your mind when you are driving, I would thoroughly recommend this book. On reading it to my little boy, I laughed with a tinge of hysteria at the reality this mum faced. When her kids had taken her to the point of no return, she would try to distract them by pointing out a tree in the distance. I am sure I am not alone in having tried this tactic myself.
Finding a diversion
At the ages of 8 and 6, my children are old enough to have given I-spy a good go and decided that it is boring. Surprisingly, playing maths games and trying to guess the person that someone is thinking of seems to give us hours of fun. I think I get bored before they do, and that is saying something!
I know this is a timeless problem – when my brother and I were around this age, we were on the M62 in a white-out. My Mum had to quietly read us a story while my Dad negotiated the snow drifts. Any arguing might have sent us off the road.
Finding the source
I was chatting to another mum in the playground the other day. She was brought up in another country, and recognises that the way the British deal with problems is completely different from the way she knows. She has noticed that we would rather get the kids to school and talk about why the child was upset later on, rather than stopping to see if it can be resolved at the time.
Her daughter had been unwilling to walk to school that morning, and she tried what she perceived as the “British” way of doing it – carry on, and deal with it later. She did manage to get her daughter into school, but was thinking about it all day. She thought her little girl had probably forgotten about the problem within minutes of arriving in class, but her mum felt concerned for much longer than that.
Pasting over the cracks
While we can’t always stop to sort out every little problem as it occurs, it does make me wonder if our culture encourages us to just get on with things, rather than talking to people about what might be bothering us. Is it better to paste over the cracks in our relationships with others, or would it be worth being a little more frank at times if something is bothering us? Can we do it sensitively enough not to make a situation worse?
In the case of the arguing in the car, I am happy to gloss over the reason behind the disagreements and create a diversion. I don’t think I can resolve all issues of one child trying to dominate the other while I am behind the wheel.
However, in other life situations, tackling a problem before it becomes too big is probably a good idea. Having an exploratory chat to see if I can discover why things aren’t working out the way I expected could be a good thing. I just need to have the guts to do it.
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