Mama S here. To continue on from my previous post about boundaries we are going to jump in on our war against the word maybe. If Mama A and I say that we maybe will do something once every couple of weeks, I would be shocked. What do we take such a hard stance? Security!
P does not do well with uncertainty. She handles “no” much better than she handles a “maybe”. When she asks if we are doing something/ getting something to eat/ seeing someone/ etc. and we say “maybe” she obsesses! She can think of nothing else and if it will happen or if it won’t. She can’t focus on what she needs to focus on, she gets grumpy, she asks a thousand times if we have decided, and she loses sleep. The sheer amount of anxiety that causes her was enough for us to stop.
When she first came to live with us, we would say maybe (as all parents do) when we were not sure of the outcome. That’s such a parent response. Can we go XYZ? Maybe. Can we see XYZ? Maybe. And on and on. It’s almost as if we say maybe in place of no to help lessen the blow. Well, in our case, it does the exact opposite.
What does that mean for our household? That means that we have to make snap decisions and stand by them. One of our mantras is:
“we mean what we say and we say what we mean”
We stand by what we say even if we don’t want to. One story that almost bit us in the butt was, we were getting ready to go out of town and she would. Not. Go. To. Sleep. Mama A and I were at our wits end and, without thinking, I blurted out, “If you don’t go to bed now, we are not going on our trip!” P’s and Mama A’s eyes got really big and everyone got settled down real fast. P went to sleep and Mama A and I went to bed. When we got to our room she said that was pretty risky to say that. I was beyond furious at that point and I looked at her and asked if she thought I was bluffing?! We all knew that I wasn’t. If P hadn’t started going to sleep in that moment I would have canceled our trip. We all would have been annoyed, but we have to stand by what we say, even when it is inconvenient for us.
Another story that didn’t turn out as well. P and I were driving somewhere, we were going out to get some food and she wouldn’t stop obsessing about getting ice cream. I told her that if she didn’t stop we would cancel our plans to go out to eat (where we were driving to) and just go home and eat. She called my bluff and brought it up again. Without hesitation I turned the car around, drove home and made dinner. What really stinks about that is, I was super excited about going there for dinner! It was my favorite Mexican restaurant and I was looking forward to the chips and salsa all day. Alas, it was not meant to be. That was a turning moment for us. That was the moment when she solidly understood that I would stand by what I said even if that meant losing out on something myself.
We reinforce this with every time we say no and stick with it!
Back to the “maybe topic”. I encourage everyone to try it. Get everyone in the family on board and commit to a YES or NO answers to questions. Then stick by them! I’ll be very interested to hear how that works out for you. Does that soothe the anxiety as it does our little? Are you feeling less stress by the fact that you don’t have to keep re-visiting the “maybe” topic? Do your kids accept the No? If not, how come? Things to chat about.
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