Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Promises, promises: getting the kids to trust me

I’ve been trying something for the past few months. Under some circumstances, when things seem appropriate, I will tell the girls “I promise”. I’m pretty careful about when I say this, and so far I haven’t been wrong (though I still owe Katrina a trip to a swimming pool).

I decided I want the word “promise” to mean something special. It’d be easy to treat it like most others do, but I thought a little extra investment could pay off big, and not just in the long run.

One example is from when they were watching a movie. It may have been The Princess Bride, which incidentally is not too bad for kids their age. Anyway, Katrina tends to get very worried about what’s going to happen to the characters. Really worried. Like, she’ll leave the room to calm down. At one point, I told her, “Katrina, I promise the princess will be okay.” I try to lightly emphasize “promise”.

Another example is when we had to leave a birthday party at a swimming pool early. This devastated Katrina because she was really having a great time. I told her, “I promise I will take you to another pool.” It’s been postponed, sure, but I didn’t specify a time, and we’ve talked about where we’ll go and who will go with us so she knows it will happen soon.

I’ve only used the word “promise” a handful of times. I want to be sure that whatever I promise will actually come to pass. That way, in the future, when there’s something they really need to know and trust, Dada saying “I promise” will be money in the bank.