Eric Carle is a long-time favorite author and illustrator for both children and adults. One of my recent reads to my 2 ½ year old grandkids is a well-worn The Grouchy Ladybug. In it two ladybugs meet one early morning on a leaf covered with aphids. The one who arrived first invited the second one to partake, but the Grouchy Ladybug wants them all and wants to fight for them. The Grouchy Ladybug decides the first ladybug isn’t big enough, so off it flies to encounter and challenge gradually larger creatures until it meets a whale who promptly slaps the Grouchy Ladybug back to the leaf where it started. Sufficiently chastised after a discouraging day, the Grouchy Ladybug is welcomed back for supper with more than enough aphids for both ladybugs.
Lesson: Can’t teach a lesson when emotions are extreme.
When I taught kindergarten, I had children from one family several years in a row and I became friends with the mom. I so admired Maria and I asked her for advice at one frustrating point in my early mommy-hood. She said, “You can’t teach someone to swim when they are drowning,” and it was a mantra that long served me in parenting when my boys’ (and my) frustration was high.
No one is reasonable when emotions are in overdrive. I remember another valuable piece of advice from favorite child psychologist who was speaker on the preschool circuit in the 80s. When those emotions are high for both the adult and child it’s important to remember, “Who is the grownup here?” GREAT question! That put a very clear perspective for me on problem solving.
Remember these responses when you feel yourself escalating to an unproductive level:
- Let’s talk later when both of us have calmed down.
- I don’t want to say something I don’t mean.
- I respect you too much to argue now.
Important teachable moment conversations need to be had when emotions are even tempered and minds are open to new lessons.
That’s when the best teaching happens.
Best in parenting,
Ginny Hacker, director