I’ve learned, when my children cry or whine, to mirror them. I learned this when they were toddlers, speaking like a cave woman to let them know that they were heard and understood.
A toddler cries because he wants to go outside. I point to the window and whine, “You want outside! You want outside NOW!” The toddler stops crying, looks at me, furrowed brow, sucks snot off lip, and nods. “I know you want outside. After dinner.” The child feels heard and is also alarmed that an adult is whining out. But, hey, that adult hears me. She gets me.
Today, Abigail was crying, over what I knew was nothing, saying that her foot hurt because Lucas stepped on it. Rather than argue with them both, his denial of it, her insistence, I simply mirrored what she was saying, observing what I saw, letting her know that I heard that her foot really hurt! Then I probed, “Abigail, I’m sorry your foot hurts. Is there anything I can do?”
“Yes,” she said without missing a beat, “Get a Lucas-sized box, then ship him off to Canada… through Wayfair, where shipping is free.”
Then Lucas began to sing the advertising jingle, “Wayfair, they’ve got just what I need, everything for my house, and the shipping is free.”