Most of us find ourselves facing an array of labels spoken and unspoken that affect how we think, feel, and act toward our spirited children. If we are going to build a healthy relationship with them, we must lay the labels out on the table, dissect them, and then redesign those that make us and our kids feel lousy – the ones that cloud our vision and hide the potential within.
I like how Kurcinka begins the book, in chapter two, with a deconstruction of how things currently are. She asks the reader to consider how we think about and talk about our children, and how that might affect our relationship. Negative labels can perpetuate dread, can discourage, and can send the wrong message to other adults in the child’s life, such as a teacher. But as she says in chapter one, sometimes our spirited child’s personality traits are actually strengths when understood and well guided.
It seems difficult to comprehend in the moment of an explosive episode, but ‘redesigning’ our labels to reflect a more positive quality can help us as a parent relate differently, and it can help our child think of themselves differently. So I sat down and thought of the labels I use for Ruthie. All but two would be considered negative, but that didn’t surprise me. The most difficult part of the exercise was coming up with a corresponding positive trait, because I’m just not sure I could catch the vision for some of these. To be honest, I had to use a thesaurus.
|NEGATIVE LABEL||REDESIGNED LABEL|
|strong willed||confident, assertive|
I felt the exercise was helpful in reminding me that Ruthie needs time and direction to grow into these traits, and that as an adult these traits will actually be an asset.
You don’t need to list your labels if you don’t want to, but I’m curious what others thought of this chapter?