Things are Going Well—Now What?

Maybe you have been through a rough patch with one of your children.  Perhaps she was not doing her homework.  Or perhaps another child was always late in the morning.  Or maybe your child was arguing with his siblings a lot.  Or whatever else you can think of.  You’ve been there.

Now, say you have worked hard with this child to improve her behavior.  You’ve talked with her and found out that she needed more help with math.  Or you worked out a good schedule for the morning and used some incentives to get your child moving better in the morning.  Say you found ways to spend special time with each child and you also praised them both any time they were playing well together.

Your efforts have paid off.  Things are better.

When I am working with a family and we get to this point, I usually ask, “What could mess this up?”  That’s right, after spending a little time enjoying the success, I start anticipating problems.  Just like a psychologist, right?

Well, I find that people can avoid problems if they can anticipate them.  It is likely that in the process of working through the last bump in the road that you learned something important about this child and how she copes in the world.

Perhaps she gets discouraged easily by new topics in school.  This is good to know.  You can anticipate with her that there will be more new material that might seem overwhelming, and you can talk with her about asking for help.  This would be so much easier than fighting about homework.

Perhaps you have learned that your child doesn’t do very well at stringing together a long series of tasks to be done (that’s what a morning routine is, after all).  You’ve found that she benefits from a checklist.  Some people also benefit from a visual—a photo that shows the child all ready for desired activity, such as school, soccer practice or a sleepover.  You can anticipate that there will be difficulties when setting up new routines or series of behaviors.

Lastly, perhaps you’ve learned that your children can play together very well in some situations, but not in others.  You might learn that it is best if both have a friend over at once to decrease the competition.  Or you might have learned that each needs some one-on-one time with you regularly.

Asking yourself what could go wrong gets you to go back to notice what caused the last problem and what you learned by solving it.  In this way you can anticipate the bumps in the road and smooth some of them out before you get there.

Good luck!

 

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Photo credit:  Simply CVR on Flickr

 

Comments

10 Responses to “Things are Going Well—Now What?”
  1. Excellent points, all. There’s always going to be some bumps in the road, and anticipating how to respond is so much more useful than throwing up our hands because it’s “not working anymore!”

  2. dr.cstone says:

    Thanks, Colleen. Every arrangement or relationship needs maintenance. Best to imagine when and how that might occur.
    Best,
    Carolyn

  3. Great points! I found when my son was young that I needed to slow down to his pace. A wonderful child’s pace, I do miss that! You rock! as you said “Perhaps you have learned that your child doesn’t do very well at stringing together a long series of tasks to be done” well its; time to slow down!

  4. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Kathy,
    Thanks for your enthusiasm. You’re right–adapting to your child’s style could be blessing in disguise!
    Carolyn

  5. Rachelle Norman says:

    Great points! I really like the idea of having a pitot of the completed process. It makes it easier to communicate what the end goal is.

  6. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Rachelle,
    Thanks for your comment. If we’ve been successful, it’s possible that the past is future! At least it’s worth a try.
    Best,
    Carolyn

  7. JoAnn Jordan says:

    Planning for decreased bumps does help. For me it also means planning for success. If I always expect the worst, it seems more apt to happen. If I look for points to reinforce the good, the positive is more likely.

  8. Carolyn,

    I think that having an action plan in place can help parents manage their own anxiety. I also work at reminding my clients that it is important to note and name when things are going well–so that successes get reinforced with attention, too! 🙂

    Warmly,
    Ann

  9. dr.cstone says:

    Hi JoAnn,
    I like your point. Planning for success involves considering how to support that. Bumps will happen, but we can manage.
    Best,
    Carolyn

  10. dr.cstone says:

    I so agree. There are times I stop parents when they quickly note the ways things have gone well before going on to the latest problem. I note the success, and ask, “How’d you do that?” giving them credit for coping well.
    Thanks, Ann.
    Carolyn