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Drying Ducks: Seeing Children

A MicroStep Moment

duck in bath

Sometimes you have to dry the rubber duckies so that your kids know you care. Huh?

We all know that trying to discipline kids–or getting them to do anything–when physiological needs, like food or sleep, haven’t been met is at worst impossible and at best a fight!

Hangry: /ˈhaNGɡrē/, adjective. bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.

What if I were to tell you that kids also have a hard-wired emotional need to be seen. They need to feel that they matter. To interact. Feeling seen makes them feel safe, secure, and stable. And it’s not a “nice-to-have." Just like hunger, when that need isn’t fulfilled, you’ll see kids act out or misbehave. It is not intended to drive you crazy but it is an effort to be noticed, to make sure they still matter to you.

When it’s time to get out of the bath and your child yells, cries, or throws the rubber duck, those are (irritating) behaviors because children don’t know how to otherwise articulate, “Mom, bath time is really fun and I got new ducks for my birthday. Frankly, it’s disappointing that I have to go to bed. Can you understand how I might feel upset? Perhaps I could have an extra five minutes.”

Lol, as they say.

Sangry: /ˈsaNGɡrē/, adjective. Uncooperative, unhelpful, overly sensitive as a result of not being seen.

Make a Moment

Threatening, judging or blaming tends to negate their experience, tends to push our kids away.

  • “Get out of the bath right now, or no story.”

  • “How come you never get off the x-box when I ask? I repeat myself over and over. How come you never listen to me?”

  • “No friends and no technology until your bedroom is immaculate!”

  • “We’re late again. WhenShe are you ever going to learn to be on time?”

Letting our children know that you “get” them can be as straightforward as making a pot of macaroni and cheese.

  • Acknowledge Them: “Those ducks do not look they are ready to get out of the bath! They are having so much fun with you. Here’s your towel; do the ducks need drying too?

  • Value Their Experience: “Hey, how was soccer practice? Looks like you worked hard. I can’t imagine you feel like doing anything. Would you mind hanging your coat up before you go upstairs?”

  • Enjoy What is Unique to Them: “It makes me so happy when I see you with your friends. Thanks for agreeing to get everything off the floor and bring down your laundry before they get here.”

  • Offer to Help: “Where’d you get those colorful lanyards for your backpack? I’ve put it in the car. Is there anything else I can do to help you finish getting ready?”

Why it works

Nothing nourishes your child as much as knowing that you care about them and their unique world regardless of what’s actually happening. It doesn’t have to be winning a championship or making the honor roll. Children who feel valued and important, just for being themselves, will naturally lean toward listening and being more cooperative. Seeing and hearing them is the first step.

Taking a moment to acknowledge and value our kids' unique experience pulls them closer to us, which is the fuel behind better behavior and cooperation.


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