Here’s an altered question from the Sparky and Shady 2020 parent Q&A the other day…
“I signed up for a subscription with you and my daughter was happy to do the first couple of lessons. She said she met Sparky and Shady in her imagination, but now she says she can’t hear Sparky at all and that she just wants to listen to Shady. She also says she doesn’t want to do it next week. I thought about asking for my money back but I think the program makes a lot of sense and I think it could help her. How do I get my daughter to take part in the lessons? And how do I get her to listen to Sparky?”
You are not the first parent to tell me your child says they can’t hear Sparky and that they just want to listen to Shady! I think it is great when kids do this! It means your child is learning and they are testing out what they have learnt! In my experience your child can hear Sparky very clearly, they just don’t want to admit it and here’s the reason why…
Previously, your child may have used Shady words and actions to meet their needs for love, belonging or importance (Maslow’s Hierarchy) – now they have learnt that it isn’t actually Shady’s job to meet these needs – it is Sparky’s job!
Some kids are totally fine with this, they embrace the whole Sparky and Shady idea and start using it in their life quite beautifully (a bit like kids who love and embrace swimming lessons straight away.)
Then there are other kids who are scared things will change when they learn about Sparky and Shady. In the swimming analogy, these kids are the ones who don’t like swimming lessons and it is a challenge to get them there.
If your child is in the habit of getting love, belonging and importance from you when they; whinge, argue, refuse to do what you ask them to, act like they can’t do something without your help, fight with a sibling or anything else that gets them your undivided attention, then their Shady will automatically jump in to stop things changing.
Hence the, “I can’t hear Sparky and I’m not doing it anymore.” Your child is scared things will change. At the moment Shady is meeting their needs; they are safe, secure, loved, they belong, they are important, worthy of your attention and they have a purpose. They are scared they will no longer get your attention, get their needs met and have the Shady fun and mischief they are having with you, if they listen to Sparky. This is all subconscious by the way – your child is not trying to manipulate you!
So, with this is mind…
1. How do you get your child to take part in the lessons?
With Sparky’s help! Sparky can solve any problem in a loving and respectful way.
I suggest you close your eyes, take some deep breaths and ask your Sparky what to say to your child. Whatever answer you get – give it a whirl. (You will hear, see, feel or know an answer in your imagination – if you don’t get an answer from Sparky just make up a loving answer because after all you are Sparky)!
For instance, my Sparky suggested having an honest conversation with your child, saying something like…
“I know you are scared this program is going to change things around here. For instance, that I’m not going to give you attention for arguing with me, whinging, or fighting with your brother or sister anymore. Instead of arguing with you, yelling at you or trying to reason with you, I am just going to ignore Shady behaviour and walk away. I think this is a great idea! I love you and I want you to learn to be loving and respectful with everyone in our family more of the time. Your Sparky knows how to do that and from what I have learnt so far, Sparky’s way of getting love and attention makes everyone feel great, so in the long run it will be better for you too!
We are going to keep doing the lessons together so we can both learn how to think, say and do what Sparky says more of the time. I can’t be with you every minute of the day to help you solve your problems – but Sparky can! When you do these lessons with Kathy and me, you will learn to trust yourself and listen to your own inner wisdom. This will help you feel safe, secure, loved and important for the rest of your life! What do you think? What does Sparky think? What does Shady think? Which part of you do you think we should listen to?”
(If your child does choose Shady and they refuse to do the lessons, just do them on your own until they come back of their own accord! No need to use Shady tactics to convince them because in my experience kids love learning the content – even though their Shady may be scared.)
2. How do I get my child to listen to Sparky more?
Be persistent and consistent. Listen to your own Sparky. Ask your own Sparky for advice. Don’t give up on Sparky because your child is scared. Being scared is normal and healthy when we are challenging ourselves, it’s a signal that things are changing and we are learning.
It may seem difficult to persist with Sparky and Shady if your child is refusing, but keep going!
I promise you your child will thank you when they are older, just like they will thank you for those swimming lessons! Learning to swim could literally save your child’s life. Learning to trust Sparky could save your child’s life one day too! At the very least it will certainly make your child’s life more happy, loving and fulfilling!