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What do I mean by “want to”?
This is really one of the simplest concepts in history. It is why you are reading this article. You want to. When you realize your children are not doing what they should be doing and you understand it is because their ‘want to’’ is broken it gives you something to work with.
With permission, I am sharing this story with you as it will explain how I stumbled onto this very simple concept. This story is not about children, but I am hoping you will see how things work out for us in intricate ways and everything we do in our lives is a lesson.
I have a friend that is in a wheelchair and has been for most of her life. She had made a comment to me one day that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be able to get out of the wheelchair. I, of course, thought that was absurd, until one day I visited her at her home. The first thing I noticed is that her apartment was all geared to wheelchair accessibility. As soon as I entered and looked around, it hit me. I looked at her and said, “Oh my goodness, I have figured out why you don’t want to get out of the wheelchair. If you do, your whole life will change. You will have to move, you will have to get a job. The point is everything, as you know, it will have to change”. She had a look of astonishment on her face. “You are right”, she said, “That is why! I hadn’t thought about it, but that is the reason…..” So I replied, “your ‘want to’ is broken.” I didn’t think that thought through before I said it, but it has stuck with both her and me ever since. She giggled and said, “yeah, I guess that is the truth.”
For both of us, our thinking changed that day. She slowly started realizing that her thoughts had to change. I learned that your ‘want to’ was the essence of how things ‘happen’ or do ‘not happen’ for us.
If we think about this in a parenting way it does start to make sense why sometimes we can get our child to do things and yet other times we can’t. If our children want to do something, we as parents can help make it happen for them. If they want to get good grades, we can instruct and teach and they will get good grades. If they don’t ‘want to’, no amount of good instruction or teaching will get them those good grades. So the knack in parenting is to work on changing the child’s ‘want to’.
So let’s give a few possible examples and then I think you will see what I am talking about. If your child doesn’t want to eat their dinner…..what could we say or do to show them a good reason to eat their dinner so their ‘want to’ is changed from “I don’t want to”…..to “hey, what a good idea.” One example that we used on some of our children was the mousie….yes you heard me right; that is not a spelling mistake.
My husband is muscular which made it easy to see when they moved. So when he would eat something he would then say to the little one that didn’t want to eat…..“Hey, look at my mousie move now that he has food to give him energy.” The children would then watch in wonderment as he moved one bicep then his one chest muscle, then his next chest muscle and then his last bicep. So it looked like the mouse moved right across their dad’s body and it fascinated them so much they wanted to be able to do the same thing. While still doing this back and forth muscle movement my husband would then tell the kids that if they ate all their supper their mousie would grow and be able to move soon too.
Their ‘want to’ was fixed. They watched as he moved muscles and they keep putting mouthful after mouthful into their mouths, the whole time watching the ‘mouse’ move across their dad’s body. At times like that, I always wanted to jump up and get the button we bought from staples that says ‘That was easy’
Coming up with ways to try and improve your child’s ‘want to’s’ are not always as easy as that. But if you are creative and are willing to talk to other people and look up parenting blogs and ask for assistance, you will find ways to interest your child enough to help entice them to change their ‘want to’. You might not always be successful but keep looking and experimenting.
One little flaw with this is when your children learn what you are doing and try to out think you. My third child eventually said to me one day, “You want to know why I am not doing my homework, mom?”After the puzzled look came across my face he proclaimed, “Because my ‘want to’ is broken.” End of conversation as far as he was concerned…..but as I am ever ready to do I came back with “for now, but someday your ‘want to’ will get fixed.” By this time it was too late for him to have honors in school, but once he started college he had a girlfriend that did really well in school and she was going to university as her grades gave her this opportunity, whereas his grades got him into college. He suddenly ‘wanted to’ do much better and is doing very well with his grades now. Huh…..I didn’t have to do anything to fix his ‘want to’, a smart girlfriend did.
Be encouraged to know that even if you cannot come up with something to fix their problems, life itself might give you a helping hand.
Check out the FREE Chapters in my Parenting Book titled ‘I was the Perfect Parent…then I had kids’.