Thursday, January 24, 2013

When Past Strategies Fail

When I look back on some of my more recent life lessons, the common theme seems to be "What worked in the past will not work here".

How can that be? How could my past strategies fail when they had served me so well so many times before?

The world is a new and changing place. Different personalities are in charge. They have become who they need to be, to get where they want to go.

I am not as driven as I need to be to survive and thrive in this brave new world. I don't like what I see out there and I have no desire to become like some of those who are in positions of authority.

How do you become all that you hope to be when you fear ... but don't respect those that are wielding the power?

I tried, tried and tried again. I suppose that in some ways I succeeded. I found niches of safety and support in my travels. To be very honest, I had far more success than failure as I made my way. But it is the situations that I did not conquer that continue to haunt me.

Why? Because I have yet another challenge set before me. In the body of a two and a half year old child.

He has an extensive vocabulary and at first glance, he seems far older and wiser than a two-year-old. That is deceiving. Because he is often repeating words in a certain order that he has learned without the understanding that goes along with what he is saying. He is very much a two-year-old under the surface.

He copies every single behaviour of the one-year-olds that come here. I have done absolutely everything that I can think of to dissuade this behaviour. I ignore. I tell him I can't understand him when he doesn't use his words. I walk away. I guide his words and actions back to his own level.

It is when he stares boldly into my eyes and mimics a behaviour that I have just barely told the one-year-old to stop that gets to me. I have done "all of the above". I have gone to my fall-back word - a no fault, stop-in-your-tracks-word, that has worked every time before. "Stop".

The word "stop" has never failed me. It is the one word that I can say and has always met with success. Two kids fighting? Both people are most likely at fault in some capacity. Guilt is a great motivator and the word stop does not assign guilt ... but it is one word that stops the action so we can sit down and figure things out. 

The word "stop" is easily understood by all (most) ages. Sometimes the lesson to be learned is beyond a toddler's comprehension ... but the word "stop" can help stop a negative behaviour from forming. It has always worked for me. Always.

Until now. I have yet to discover the way inside of this 30-month-old mind. I watch and listen to  how his mom interacts with him and I am impressed. She doesn't bend to his tantrums. She stands her ground and he does not get his way until his behaviour improves. She is the youngest mom that I have ever babysat for and she is the most consistent in her expectations.

The lesson that keeps coming back to me is "What has worked in the past is not working here ...". So I must find a new strategy.

This old dog is having a tough time learning all the new tricks of the trade to survive out there. If I can't learn how to work with a two-year-old, what does that say about my potential for future success?

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