For every challenge there are hundreds of solutions – the trick is to find the one that fits best. But first we need to be open to those solutions – we need to be able to see them.
What often happens in challenging situations with our children however, is our expectations, judgments, needs, fears and egos all get in the way of the one thing, the secret, that can help us solve these challenges.
That secret is creativity!
Our children are naturally curious, playful and creative and open to the infinite possibilities of the moment – it’s often we who are closed and narrow minded about the problem and the solution.
If you have read any of my other blogs you would know that I encourage parents to see their unrealistic expectations, fears, unmet needs and judgements and become aware of how their ego is creating power struggles and battles with their children. All these things close us off from creativity – block our ability to expand our awareness and thinking which leaves us with limited choices.
The more we are open, the more opportunity there is to see the plethora of choices we have to handle a problem, situation or challenge. It is our openness that shows us possibilities we may not have known existed.
I believe our children are our greatest teachers and when it comes to creativity we can learn a thing or two from them.
A situation occurred the other day with my daughter. A few minutes before the bus was to arrive she flopped herself on the bench outside and declared that her backpack was too heavy and that she couldn’t carry it to the bus stop. She sat there, arms crossed, slumped over and huffing.
I was open, present and tuned into my daughter in that moment. I didn’t react to her statement and let her complaint linger for a few moments.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we had a donkey and it could carry your backpack to school” I proclaimed with great excitement. My daughter immediately picked up the idea and ran with it. She explained that we could leave the donkey at school, that it would eat all the grass in the front yard so no one would have to mow the lawn, and that it could even come into her classroom for some fun. At the end of the day she would ride it home and it would be great.
She then went on to fantasize about having a unicorn, her very own, the only one in the world that would carry her backpack. She described how special it would be and how it would have it’s own special path to school and she continued to share this magical scenario with me.
The amazing thing that happened was that while she was describing this fantastic scene to me she had picked up her backpack and put it on and started walking down the porch steps. As I watched her I held space the entire time – hung onto her words and maintained connection with her.
I stayed on the porch and watched as she walked down the driveway to the road. She had stopped talking at that point but I was sure her mind was still wrapped up in the mystical unicorn.
As she continued to walk down the road she looked back at me and waved goodbye. Problem solved! One simple creative, playful statement about a donkey helped my daughter get out of her funk, bring her into her imagination which helped her engage herself and put on her backpack with no other complaints and fuss.
Children learn through play – play and creativity is what they thrive on and if we can tap into that we can use that to help us through challenging situations. Let me give you an example.
I think most parents would agree that teeth brushing is one of the most challenging tasks we have to handle. Most kids don’t like to do it and I believe that is because of how we presented it or ‘sold’ it to our kids. If we turned it into a fun, playful activity, one we even do as a family then our children might actually enjoy it and even want to do it.
There are countless ways to get them to brush their teeth and one way you can make it fun is get your kids to pretend their teeth are dirty, muddy cars. Each tooth is a car that wants to be sparkling white and the tooth brush and paste is part of the car wash process to shine them up – the bubbles, rinse cycle and polishing station. You could even sing a song or put on some music – make it extra fun.
The secret is to use your imagination and creativity to make tasks more fun – it really is that simple but sadly many parents have lost touch with their creative playful side.
I say claim it back! Take back your playful side and embrace the creativity that lives within you!
Open yourself up to the endless possibilities that exist. And if the car wash idea doesn’t appeal to your child, then search for something else – there is no right and wrong and there is something that will engage your child – you just need to find it.
One suggestion I can offer is to start with things your children already like; movie characters, music, songs, or dress up clothes. Invite them to be those characters while they brush their teeth or hair, have dinner, or get ready for bed. Invite them to wear a costume to clean their room or sing a song or play dance music while sorting laundry – make it fun!
I sometimes put on dance music while I am cooking or working in the kitchen – it makes it fun for me too and often it attracts the kids and we dance together and sometimes they help me cook!
When we are open to creativity and playfulness there is no end to what we can do – only limitless possibilities for how we can handle any particular situation.
Try it out!
I invite you to think about the tasks or routines that are challenging and then see what you can do to bring in some creativity to make them more fun.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What judgments or expectations do I need to let go of first to be open to the possibilities?
What fun, creative, playful ideas might engage my child to get through that challenging task or routine?
I would love to hear some of your creative ideas to common household challenges – share them below in the comments box!