My three-year-old son gets told (approximately 8249 times per day) to stop climbing onto the kitchen table, rocking and tipping over his chair, sitting backwards on his chair, standing on his chair, climbing the back of his chair, and any number of other risky things he can come up with to do during meal times.
Yesterday during breakfast, he finally fell out of his chair (after standing on the back of it, while leaning against the table to push the chair up onto its back two legs), and smacked his head on the floor.
This is not the first time he’s gotten hurt doing things like this to his chair at the kitchen table, but it happens infrequently enough that he has yet to learn his lesson.
In that moment, I fought the urge to say, “This is exactly why I keep telling you not to do that! If you would listen, you wouldn’t get hurt!” and instead, I scooped him up, kissed the boo-boo, and waited for him to finish crying.
As one would expect of a three-year-old boy, situations where he either puts himself in danger of getting hurt, or actually hurts himself by doing the things I repeatedly warn him against doing happen all the time.
And I never know whether to say “I told you so,” or to give copious amounts of love and sympathy. Neither feels right, and either leaves me with a feeling of guilt.
Of course, there is what seems like a middle ground, where I give one hug, and say something along the lines of:
“I’m so sorry you got hurt! Sometimes that happens when you [insert offence here]. That’s why I don’t want you doing that. Can you try to remember that for next time?”
…but, because he has an attention span of 0.2 seconds, we rarely get through this lecture.
Is there a balance of making the moment teachable while still maintaining a positive emotional connection?
To be fair, I don’t think anyone listens to their parents tell them what hurts or what’s dangerous. I really do get it, because I know that when I was a kid, I didn’t believe much of what adults told me; I wanted to try things myself and observe the results of my experiments (while conveniently forgetting if what I learned from experience matched what the adults in my life warned me about).
Having in recent memory been a teenager and a new adult, I am so not looking forward to teenage / young adult years, when I know the best teacher is experience, but I know as a parent, there are a lot of painful experiences I don’t wish him to have.
I have a lot of time until then, so I hope that means I have time to figure out the answer for this dilemma.
For now, it seems all I can do is worry, and vent about my worries in a blog.
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