At our recent trip to Underwater World (see Man..door… – other adventures whilst there), Master 3 announced as we were arriving that he’d like an Underwater World map. This was no surprise as even though we have an annual pass, he likes to collect one each time. He also has a map from Australia Zoo and about anywhere else we’ve been that has maps. It’s the symbols, the letters/numbers down the sides, it’s the stories he can create himself after the trip…
When we got there, we were surprised to see they had cordoned off the front section for renovations and the lady explained the different entry. Master 3 called out for a map however the lady at the desk had none left. I knew this wasn’t great for Master 3 but I had distracted him other times with ‘let’s not waste more paper/you’ve got more at home’. Today we distracted with a shark stamp on his arm instead. Off we went.
We had a good time and upon leaving, my husband noticed that Master 3 was quiet and appeared sad in the car. My husband asked if he was okay and Master 3 replied ‘yes’. However, it was unlike him to be seeming so sad, especially after Underwater World. So he probed again. Master 3 replied, ‘I wanted an Underwater World map’.
We had been so focussed on the trip and what we thought was the point of the outing, that we had not seen what was important to Master 3. Being persistent, he could not forget about what he had set his mind on.
By this stage, I felt that we had done enough ‘brushing off’. Option A would be to respond ‘but we had a good time, don’t worry’. But this was telling Master 3 that his interests didn’t matter. It was telling him that ‘everything is okay’, even when it’s not. Option B was to help him to face the situation and the feelings that went along with it. We talked about how he was feeling disappointed and that this feeling won’t last forever. We talked about the map situation further to help him to understand, to work through his disappointment. The truth was, they were most likely not giving out any maps as quite a chunk of the attractions were closed off. Presenting a map to patrons would show them how little was actually left to see! And then, we helped Master 3 to work through the disappointment by reminding him he could look at a map when we got home, which was easier for him to accept now that we were halfway home.
Moral of the story – remember to notice what your child’s interests are and sometimes when they say something, they REEAAALLY mean it! If they can’t have it, explain to them and talk them through their feelings until they are happy to move on. By ‘brushing off’, it is like we are telling them we are not brave enough to go there and experience their feelings with them. We obviously brushed Master 3 off too soon and he was left with his feelings of disappointment to deal with.
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