The questions we ask are important because obviously the answers that come to us are a result of what question we asked. So, asking the wrong questions gives us the wrong answers, and when we base our reactions, our relationships, our decisions, and our views on the wrong answers, we miss the mark. We end up on the wrong path and wonder why things aren’t working out properly and why it has gotten so hard.
This was the case for me eight years ago when my firstborn was three years old. I, like many other parents, asked one question over and over again. What do I do when…
What do I do when my child hits?
What do I do when my child doesn’t listen?
What do I do when he is defiant?
What do I do when he won’t sleep at night?
What do I do when…what do I do when…
It isn’t hard to find answers to these questions. The internet is full of them. Books and magazines are full of answers. Professionals, friends, family, everyone seems to have an answer for the “what do I do when” question, (all conflicting answers, of course) and the answer you accept will determine how you treat your child and the course of action you will take.
When I asked “what do I do when my child is defiant?” and the answer that came to me which I accepted was “put him in time-out,” our course was set. I continued to view him as defiant (because I had gotten an answer that reinforced my belief) and I consistently and continually placed him time-out just as I was told. Of course, it didn’t work. Our relationship suffered and his behavior only worsened. The more I looked for defiance, the more I saw of it, and pretty soon our days were filled with power struggles and tears, and every day I felt completely defeated.