30 March 2008

Lessons in validating

Still had the car, so I went and spent some money at a garden centre after Church. I got lots of native British plants, and spent a happy afternoon planting them and making my garden look really colourful and much more full! Wow, it looks so good out there... I just want some more roses and another apple tree (when I say "just" I'm sure I'll think of some more things!).

One thing that happened on our way to the garden centre was I learnt something important about validation in practice. I don't think I can put what I learn very well, but this is what happened. Jenna started saying she didn't want to go and that she wanted to go home. This wasn't an option, petrol was limited and we don't get many chances to go out like this. Martin started trying to tell her that she would LIKE the garden centre, that she always loves playing there once we get to it, that it was close now... All true, but she was getting angry and kicking the chairs now.

I gave him a look and said to her, "You don't want to come to the garden centre, you don't like being in the car so long and you've had enough, you want us to understand how cross you are and nobody is listening. You are angry that Mummy has taken your choice away and decided where we are going without asking what you wanted to do. You want to decide where we go, and right now you want us to take the car HOME."

She stopped screaming, and looked at me. She was still protesting, whining, not coming round to the idea, but she had been understood a bit better. She kept repeating that she didn't want to go, she wasn't going to the garden centre etc, but she was calmer now (in fact she sounded VERY tired but I knew well enough not to say that!). When we got out of the car she started saying, "NO NO NO nooo" and crying again.

I said calmly that I knew she was unhappy but sometimes there were plans that were going to happen, even if MUMMY didn't want to go either or anything! I wasn't sure that this was at all in the spirit of validating but I thought she needed to know that it was going to happen even though I understood.

Then over her protests I kept telling her that I heard how angry she was, that she wanted to stay in the car. I sat in that car park for twenty minutes, holding her and stroking her hair. Listening to her SCREAM and tell me she hated me. Then she stopped, looked around with an air of surprise at where we were, and ran into the garden centre laughing and exclaiming over what she could see.

We had a really easy trip after that, and she slept for about three hours from the second we got back into the car until I woke her up for tea.

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