An Object Lesson

In an effort to help Kiddo maintain control of herself, I took her out on the deck today and told her a story.

We sat on  the deck with our feet dangling over the edge.

Me: “Why are we safe here?”

Kiddo: “Because of the railing” (motioning to the rails that she was leaning on)

Me: “Would we be safe without them?”

Kiddo: “No, we could fall.”

Me: “Do you remember hearing about the lady who fell?”

Kiddo: “No.”

Me: “She was sitting on the edge of a tall cliff.  It didn’t have any railings.  She was drinking something when her cup slipped.  She reached out to try to catch it and lost her balance.  She fell over the cliff.”  (This really happened not to far from here.)

Me:”Do you think that her cup was expensive?”

Kiddo:”I don’t know.”

Me: “I don’t know either.  Do you think that she should have tried to catch it or should she have let it fall?”

Kiddo:”She should have let it fall.”

Me: “Sometimes our attitudes are like that.  Go stand by the door.”  (Kiddo walks over to the door.) ” When you are happy and having a good time it is like you are way far away from the edge, but there are lots of things that can make you move toward the edge.  When your brain is tired, it is like taking a step toward the edge.  Math was hard yesterday, so it was like taking a step toward the edge. ” (Kiddo took a step toward the edge of the deck.)  “Spelling was hard. It made your brain tired.” (another step) “If your body is tired, that can be another step toward the edge.  Last night you went swimming.  Step forward as many steps as that made you tired.”  (She takes several large steps.)

Then I have her sit down, and I go on: “When Honey stepped on your foot last night, that was like the cup slipping out of your hand.  You could have let it fall and forgiven her, but you chose to reach for it and you slipped over the edge.  It wasn’t a big cliff last night, though.” (I give her a big hug.) “You could have let it go and forgiven her.”

Next I get out a gift bag that I have on the deck.  I let Kiddo look inside.  She pulls out a very badly tarnished silver cup.

Me:”Would this cup break if you dropped it over the edge?”

Kiddo:”Yes.” (Not the answer I’m looking for, LOL.  This is real life folks.)

Me: (dropping the cup a few inches onto the deck) “I don’t think so, what is it made of?” (handing her the cup)

Kiddo: “It’s made of metal, but it would break if you dropped it over the edge of the deck.”

Me: “We are not going to really drop it, but it is not like a china cup.  It wouldn’t break.” (I didn’t say that it would probably get dented pretty badly.  That didn’t fit my story.) “This cup is kinda like your attitude.  It is pretty dirty now but, with some work it could be very pretty.”  (I take out the silver polish and a rag and put some polish on the rag and hand it to Kiddo.) “If you rub hard, you can take away the dirt.  It will be hard work, like changing your attitude can be hard work.” (Kiddo starts rubbing.)

Me: “When you need some time to back away from the edge of the cliff, why don’t you take out this cup and polish it for a while. ” (Kiddo grins.)


I don’t know if my little story will help, but I hope so.  One of the things that I have read is that it is good to have a common vocabulary.  I tend to say that Kiddo is “On edge,” but I never really defined what that means.

Early this afternoon, a couple of hours after this conversation, Kiddo started to get worked up again.  I pulled her aside and told her that she was getting close to the edge. Her reaction was much different than normal.  She grinned and ran upstairs.  About 15 minutes later she came down stairs very calm.  Later I asked her if she was working on her cup, and she said that she was.

This could be a good thing.



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