Conversations With My 8-year-old Son
This is part of my series on Parenting.
Table of Contents
Communication: Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive
Alex likes pickles, and at lunch, we discussed three different approaches to communicate that he wants some pickles.
- Aggressive: Gimme pickles, now! ROAR!
- Passive: I really like pickles. They’re great! Don’t you think so? I wish I had some…
- Assertive: Would you get me some pickles?
Every Yes Equals 100 No’s
We talked about how every time he says Yes to something, he is saying No to 100 other things. For example, he is learning how to play the piano. By choosing this instrument, he is saying No to 100 other instruments he could learn.
He picked up on this concept pretty quick and said, “I’m having cold cereal for lunch and won’t be able to eat the 100 other foods we have.” Smart boy.
When Alex first got his bike, we took his training wheels off. Like every kid learning to ride a bike, he lost his balance or forgot to pedal, and he fell over. After seven falls, he was ready to give up. I told him, “Here’s the good news: every kid has to fall over 100 times when they’re learning. You only have 93 times left!” He was not impressed. I told him we could stop for the day after he fell over three more times.
We practiced every day. On the second day, he noticed his improvement, which motivated him to keep trying. And on the fourth day, he had mastered everything except how to stop gracefully.
And he didn’t have to fall anywhere near 100 times.
Like any kid with limited screen time, Alex gets bored at home. So, we brainstormed ten things he could do to pass the time (even if he didn’t want to do them right then), and he wrote them down on a sheet of paper.
Now when he complains of boredom, I point his list.
Often he doesn’t want to do any of those things, and asks, What else can I do? I learned from experience that he’s not actually looking for any suggestions. Instead, he wants to play a game where I generate ideas of what he could do, and he comes up with a reason why he doesn’t want to do it. This activity is mildly entertaining for him and miserable for me. So, I repeat his question back to him, What else can you do?