Have you ever come away from engaging with your child or, indeed, another adult, wondering, “What planet are they on?”
Everyone I have ever worked with has had this experience.
And so have I.
This kind of thinking usually happens at a time of some sort of conflict (big or small).
Take young Bobby
Young Bobby decides when you’re really needing to get out of the door to get him to school, is a great time to nip into the back garden to check if his rabbit, Bugsy, has a fresh carrot.
Seriously?! You’ve got the car running, you’ve just got baby Sophie and her seat clipped in, you’re already running ten minutes late, and Bobby is doing a runner to grab a carrot for Bugsy?! What planet is he on?!
You’re left confused, frustrated, annoyed, exasperated etc.
So, here’s the thing…
Bobby is on his planet, you are on your planet, baby Sophie is on her planet and even Bugsy is on his planet.
We’re all on our different planets.
We’re all on ‘Planet Me’.
Here’s the science bit...
We are all bombarded with millions of bits of information, every second of our lives.
We simply can’t pick up on all of these.
In fact, we pick up on around 148 things in any one second. And even then, that’s not consciously.
Consciously, we’re maxed-out at about nine things and most of the time, we’re conscious of one or two things.
We can’t drive or play an instrument or lift your arm up consciously. We know that we’ve decided to do those things, but there are far too many aspects to driving, playing and instrument or raising our arm, for us to be able to do it consciously.
Much of the data we’re are bombarded with, we delete or distort.
We tend to only notice or engage with what is important to us, as individuals.
The map is not the territory...
Our experience of our world is more like a map than actual reality. A map never represents every single thing that’s out there in the world. A map gives lots of information about a lot of things, but is doesn’t give all the information about everything.
My husband’s mental map would include loads of golf courses on it, because he enjoys golf. My mental map would have no golf courses on it, because I neither play, nor enjoy, golf.
Let’s get back to Bobby...
On ‘Planet You’, the important things are the car running and using fuel, the wrestling match you’ve had getting baby Sophie and her seat clipped in, the fact that you’re already running ten minutes late, and that Bobby is being an utter pain because he’s done a runner.
On ‘Planet Bobby’, the important thing is that Bugsy mustn’t be left without his daily carrot.
The things on ‘Planet You’ and on ‘Planet Bobby’ are all valid.
So, as the grown-up…
Remember, as a child, Bobby is the novice. He’s not grabbing carrots for Bugsy to annoy you. Bobby is unaware of the metaphorical balls that you’re juggling.
Take a moment.
Take a breath.
Think, “Each of us is on our own planet.”
Bob by isn’t of an age or stage where he can appreciate your planet.
When Bobby skips back to the car, happy that Bugsy will be happy, resist the urge to tell him off.
Instead, as you finally set off out of the driveway, let him know that it’s lovely that Bobby is looking after Bugsy’s needs. Explain that, unfortunately, doing this at the last minute has made us all late. Then ask Bobby how he can make sure Bugsy gets his carrot in a way that won’t make us late.
Confusion, frustration, annoyance, exasperation and upset need not make an appearance.
And you will have given all the mornings to come, their best chance of being on time ~ and frustration free!
To your success