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it's not about you

two lessons I am trying and failing to teach my eight year old:

1) the meaning of the word "defensiveness" and why being defensive is a bad first response to a problem
2) how the other bad and related response is to first think about every problem in terms of how it affects you personally

like, her little sister will drop something and tell us "Josie bumped into me and made me spill my cereal!" Josie launches into "I BARELY TAPPED YOU THIS IS NOT MY FAULT MOM SHE'S SAYING I SPILLED THE CEREAL AND I DIDN'T"

meanwhile nobody is moving to clean up the cereal. and yes, it's also an issue that the little one is assigning blame, and I deal with that, she's five years old. and I was an older sister so I know how annoying it is to be held to that higher standard and told that you should be an example. but it's true! when you're eight, your emotional intelligence should be way past that of a five year old!

then again, I remind myself, there are grown ass adults whose emotional intelligence is not past the five year old.

Can you just say "I don't think I bumped you, but I will help you clean this up because it's not a major hardship for me, plus I know that if I spill something later you will be more likely to help me."

Sorry we armed both sides of your country's conflicting regimes at one time or another. Now we see that it's not safe for your children, so we will allow your families to live and work here and contribute to our society rather than having you starve in a refugee camp or drown trying to cross the ocean. it's not a hardship for us. Maybe your kids will give back when they are our next generation of teachers, doctors, engineering, social workers needed to take care our our aging population.

I haven't figured out how to get through to my kids, which tells me just how programmed we are to escalate problems, tunnel in and fight, then we miss opportunities to be proactive. some people are naturally empathetic, others are not, I know I've had my moments of failure. My kids are not great at this. But what's the use of being smart if you can't use it for good? And if you are smart, can't you wrap your head around the end game and what's best for everyone in the long run?

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
anais_pf
Nov. 25th, 2018 07:03 pm (UTC)
You are probably doing better than you think. And I'm sure you are showing them by example, too. It takes a lot of repetition to teach something like that.
lookfar
Nov. 25th, 2018 11:15 pm (UTC)
I think you can't go wrong in leading by example, which might be to show a lack of interest in whose to blame for x problem and just ask, How can we fix this? My guess is that your 8 year old is especially hard on herself and has trouble feeling safe when any mistake has been made. I'm wondering if your instructions about how to view this differently are received by her as more criticism, more "you're doing it wrong" and she might be more responsive to "No big deal! Let's clean it up!"

My experience has been that children's degree of sensitivity to guilt and self-blame is pretty much innate. Some kids, very thick skin. Others, omg, so fearful.

TL;DR: Maybe just act the way you want Josie to act, without further instruction?
siglinde99
Nov. 30th, 2018 06:17 am (UTC)
As an older sister, I feel Josie’s pain. I was a lot better at empathy for strangers than I was for my little sister (who really could be annoying, though I love her dearly). Hope Josie matures much faster than I did!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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