If you’ve travelled by tube you will know that at some stations they announce “Mind the Gap” to alert passengers to the space between the train and the platform edge lest they fall between them.
This is a great metaphor for what can happen in communication between you and your child. One of the pillars of NLP is that ‘the map is not the territory’; how your child sees and experiences the world is not the same as you. If you want to have rapport with your children you need to mentally step into their shoes and figure out what they see, hearing and feel.
The summer holidays offers children long periods of unstructured time to play outside and with friends and family they don’t see at school. It’s a time to forge new friendships, learn new games and finish what they start. It can take a few days for them to adjust to the more relaxed regime and the possibilities this offers. Allow children the opportunity to establish their own desirable outcomes for the day, enter their territory and have some fun doing what they want to do.
There will be lots of opportunity for rapport as you do things together and for lack of rapport when their needs can’t be met or when they (or you) get tired and fractious.
This is how we use the gap. When something is said or done that you don’t like…..
PUT YOUSELF IN HIS SHOES
When you stop, pause and disassociate for a minute. That means imagining you are an impartial spectator viewing the scene. What would they make of it? What would they think? How would they react? Is what you were about to say or do reasonable or is it an over-reaction? Have you understood their point of view, their territory?
Now put yourself in their shoes and imagine how they must be feeling and decide whether their response was reasonable in those circumstances.
Now respond and use rapport building expressions to show that you understand how they feel. You may be able to offer them the option to continue making their Lego model later / go back to their friend’s house later or whatever they want to do. Use ‘I want you to…’ to be clear what you want rather than ‘You should…’ and avoid the ‘don’t’ word which is an embedded command that tends to result in them doing precisely what you’ve asked them not to do.