Did you spot the moment during the Royal Wedding that got every parent talking? If not, examine this picture. Look closely at the bottom left-hand corner.
That’s 3-year-old Grace van Cutsem, one of the flower girls and the goddaughter of Prince William (now the Duke of Cambridge). Grace was plugging her ears because of the cheering of the million people outside of Buckingham Palace and the noise from the World War 2 fighters flying overhead.
How many of these types of moments have you experienced as a parent? They are most likely to happen when you want your child to act in a certain way. Weddings. Funerals. Family portraits. Specific holiday moments.
The best thing you can do is to allow your child to have his or her own reaction. Don’t talk your child out of his or her feelings. Instead, work with those feelings instead of against them.
In my years of parenting, I’ve run across my fair share of “Grace Van Cutsem” moments. One year, my child refused to cooperate for family pictures during the holidays. Bribes didn’t work. Threats made it worse. Some family members’ true colors came out (It’s amazing how badly other adults can act when a child isn’t cooperating!) Finally, I came up with an idea. Why not try taking a Grinch picture of all of us? So that’s what we did. We all made the meanest, Grinchiest face we could muster and snapped the picture.
It’s my all-time favorite family photo.
What warmed my heart during the Royal Wedding, however, was seeing another picture. It was a photo taken soon after the one of Grace van Cutsem plugging her ears. It’s the one of Kate Middleton (now the Duchess of Cambridge) bending down and talking with this 3-year-old about what this little girl was experiencing.
Kudos. Kate! That’s the right idea ; )
So, the next time your child refuses to cooperate or acts in ways that surprise you, slow down before your react. Find out what’s going on with your child. Maybe your child is hungry. Maybe the noise is bugging your child. Allow your child to have his or her own experience. Then work with your child instead of against your child. Meet your child’s needs first before asking your child to do something for you.
1. Claire O’Neill, “The Best Photo from the Royal Wedding,” National Public Radio, April 29, 2011.
2. Lucy Wilkins, Victoria King, Anna Jones, and Marie Jackson, “Royal Wedding: The Day as It Happened,” BBC News, April 29, 2011.
3. Mark Memmott, “Who Was that Little Bridesmaid in the Royal Wedding’s Best Photo?” National Public Radio, April 30, 2011.