How to know if your kid really needs a Pit Stop (or are they milking you for attention)

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I got mail! I love it when you guys email me real life problems because it gives me practical stuff to write ‘How to’ blog posts about. Here’s some questions from Ruby’s mum (Ruby is 7 and she has a 3 year old little brother, Oscar)…

Mum – I’m becoming a little bit concerned that Ruby may be turning these Short Cuts and Pit Stops into an “attention-seeking venture”!! I know that sounds terrible but yesterday afternoon when she was as cranky as anything and I wasn’t paying her attention (I was unpacking shopping/doing dinner, etc.) she actually seemed to be very happy to be able to take me aside, to be alone with me, drawing out the process, etc. How can I stop it becoming her way of assuring time alone with me?

Kathy – (This is my email reply) Ask your own Sparky each time if she genuinely needs your undivided attention right now or not. If you hear ‘yes’ give it to her. If not tell her when you will be able to help her, e.g. “When I’ve cooked dinner and Daddy is reading to Oscar, I will help you take that Short Cut or Pit Stop. If you need to go to your room and cry now that will help you.”

Mum – I really think Ruby needs a support person for the Pit Stops because they can be so emotional but should I just be telling her she needs to try to do the Short Cuts on her own?

Kathy – (This is my email reply) Yeah maybe, she could at least try it out – maybe with a doll, teddy bear, dog or cat to listen to her! (This next bit I’m adding now) That’s assuming she knows what to do on her own, basically Shady Short Cuts are just whinging and crying about something that has happened recently. If possible though it would be great if you helped her and if you think she is ‘milking you’ check with Sparky then do what your Sparky suggests. (I think it’s great to support her if you can because then you know what is going on in her life.)

Mum – Also, I know as the support person I am just supposed to be loving, encouraging and ask “What else?” But do you recommend doing anything about addressing some of the utter rubbish that comes out during these sessions e.g. Like when Ruby complained that her dad was teasing her when he was just correcting her behaviour? Or do I just support her and “let it go” myself ??!!

Kathy – (This is my email reply mixed with stuff I’ve added right now) Just ask “What else?” and let all the ‘utter rubbish’ come out without commenting or explaining or pointing out that she is wrong. Why? Because Shady is absolutely irrational and wrong MOST of the time! You are training Ruby to listen to all of the nonsense (and maybe some genuine stuff too on occasion) and then when she gets it ALL out and asks Sparky “What now?” The theory is she will hear Sparky say something rational like, “Dad was trying to help you realise what you did was wrong. Go give him a cuddle.” You just gotta trust she will get the right answer herself – even if she doesn’t say it out loud or admit it to you, she knows! I suspect her Shady is using the strategies for attention and also trying to trigger you (to get your Shady to come out) BUT if you keep to the script and she keeps practicing both the Short Cuts and Pit Stop, it can only be a good thing because she will get really good at them and then she will be able to do them on her own when she is older.

Just make sure the amount of time you spend on these Short Cuts and Pit Stops fit in with the rest of the family because everyone in your family deserves your love and attention. Realistically kids on average probably only need a short cut every couple of days and a Pit Stop once a week or fortnight. (Mind you after you do a workshop or class, you might get a fair few in a row – which is probably what’s happening to you).

Email me if they don’t settle down and I’ll ask my Sparky for some more ideas! Actually I just got one – do you have time to fit in a ‘Mother and Ruby afternoon’ once a week? You know where you take her out for a juice or walk or cook something yummy together without dad or her brother there? That way she will have the loving attention timetabled in and may not demand the ‘support’ attention as much?

Love Kathy

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