Never assume that you understand what is bothering your child

How I learned the importance of communicating with my child even when I am sure that I know what he is thinking!

I just learned a lesson the hard way. Have you ever just been so sure that you understand your child that you didn’t even bother to check if your assumption was correct. I did and I feel so bad about it.

My 3 year goes to day care every day. When I go and pick him up at the end of the day I am usually really excited to see him. I walk him expecting him to run to me like most of the other kids run to their parents but he just grunts and carries on playing. In fact, sometimes he runs away to the toys on the other side and starts playing with them. I greet him and ask him how his day was but he is often too busy playing to answer me. When I try and kiss or hug him he often shrugs and makes it clear he isn’t interested. Since he is never really into cuddling I didn’t think much of it. In fact, I often felt quite embarrassed when he ran away from me. After a while I stopped enjoying the moment when I picked him up. I assumed that he enjoyed playing and I was disrupting his playtime and taking him home in the middle of a game. Yesterday, on the way home from work, I was trying to analyze his behavior. Why does he act that way? Although I was sure that it was because he wanted to stay and play I decided to ask him. I was sure that he would simply explain to me that he wants to finish the puzzle or whatever he was doing but I decided to double check.

When I walked in the door he carried on doing his puzzle. I asked him what is bothering him and I was sure that he would say he wanted to finish the puzzle. I was going to tell him that we can stay until he finished. Instead, he said to me “You are late and a lot of the other children have already gone home”. I was so shocked. I was also really sad that I hadn’t thought to check with him before. Had I known that it bothers him so much I would have made an effort to arrive earlier. I always assumed that he wanted to carry on playing so if I had errands I would do them before I picked him up. Had I know I would have postponed them. It is now the end of the school year and it makes me so sad to think that every day he was upset that I wasn’t coming earlier and I didn’t even know that. I could have either gone earlier or explained to him why I couldn’t make it earlier. Instead, I totally missed the point. I just assumed that I know exactly what he is thinking and I didn’t. How many other things have I missed as a result of incorrect assumptions?

Next time, I will double check even if I am sure that I understand what my child is feeling.

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