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Home » Toddler

All you need is love

Submitted by on Sunday, 5 July 20092 Comments

Smarty Pants and I got into a huge power struggle the other day.  He’s great at power struggles.  I get the feeling that he lives for them. His will is stronger than Optimus Prime.  These are not my favourite moments.

beatlesI don’t even remember what it was about or how it started, to be honest.  But like all of our power struggles, it was going nowhere, fast.  We were at the point where he would just say the opposite of, or negate, everything I said.

Here’s an example:

Me:  “Next time are you going to listen to me?”

Him:  “No, I’m not going to listen”

Me:  “Then I’m going to be upset”

Him:  “No, you’re not going to be upset.”

and so on.  Had I the will, we could have continued this way till he reached drinking age and settled it over a beer at the restaurant at the end of the universe.

But since I noticed my hair starting to turn grey and fall from my head right before my very eyes, I decided it was time to put a stop to this dead-end conversation.

Before I continue, there’s one thing that you need to know about me:

I am a big fan of Stephen Covey, and his books, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and even more so, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families.”

One of my favoritest concepts from these books is the concept of “Emotional Deposits” and “Emotional Withdrawals.”  If you haven’t read these books (which I suggest you do), the theory pretty much goes like this:

We have an emotional bank account with each person we know.  We can do things to make deposits into that account (i.e. doing something nice for the person, giving them a compliment, making their day a bit easier, etc.), and we can do things to make withdrawals from the account (i.e. letting the person down, getting in an argument with them, accidentally stepping on their cat, etc.).

Basically, if you keep making withdrawals on a person without making deposits, you will have an overdrawn account, and your relationship will hit the bricks in no time.  To keep a relationship healthy, you should always make more deposits than withdrawals.

With that in mind, I realized that my power struggle with Smarty Pants was a big withdrawal.  I figured the best way to resolve the situation and get back on track was to make a deposit.

So I let things cool off a bit.  Then I got him ready for bed, and praised the things he did well.  As I was laying him down to sleep, getting ready to say goodnight, I said three magic words:  “I love you.”

I say “I love you” every night to him when I put him to bed, but this time, I put extra emphasis on it and made sure he really heard it.

“Even when you’re upset?”  He asked.  “Yes.” I responded, “I always love you, even when I’m upset.  I love you lots.”

I could see my account balance rising right before my eyes.  It was like winning the lottery.  A look of relief and ease swept across his cute little face.  All he really wanted was to know that I love him.  Cha-ching.

This little episode really got me thinking.  Above and beyond everything else, the one thing our kids need most is to be loved and to feel loved.  When kids act out, or engage in power struggles with us, they are really just crying out for our love and attention.  So sometimes the easiest way to break the negative pattern is to simply, stop, drop, and say “I love you.”

The Beatles had it right all along:  “All you need is love.”  (altogether now…)

Return to Parenting – The Dad Jam Home

Flickr Photo courtesy of Dunechaser

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  • Bonnie says:

    So true. a parenting class I took talked about doing this same sort of things with letting kids have control over decisions. Give them lots of choices on smaller things all through the day- what cup to have, what shirt to wear, what shoes to wear, what color bowl to eat out of. Then when you have to make a decision on something that is not up for discussion you can say “You have made choices all day, now it’s my turn.”

  • Head Jammer says:

    Thanks for your great comment Bonnie, this is so true and you give some very good examples! Great stuff, I like it!

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