27. Reframing
Reframing is a magical art, best taught by example. After you have caught on to what it is and how to do it, you can have some fun trying to define it.

Frame-shifting happens all the time, in big situations and in small ones. A child gleefully standing up in his high chair sees the look of alarm on his mother's face, and suddenly he sees his situation in a different light.

You set the tone from the beginning, but you pick something of compelling interest to them at their stage of maturity. "Does your Mommy let you put pink paint on your fingernails?" "Does she let you use the little brush?" "Do you paint your toenails, too?" "Can you show me?" A parent who notices what the child is very interested in and who turns the conversation in that direction can gain almost instant rapport. And what's more, the effect is cumulative. The child will begin to see the parent as someone they can turn to in order to share the delights of life.

When your toddler starts getting into the pots and pans in the kitchen, you can say, "Wow, you really like to be an explorer, don't you!" You are framing his behavior with a positive spin. But to do this you must first shift your own frame of reference about what the child is doing. You have to drop the old frame of reference that the child is misbehaving or being a nuisance, or whatever your old frame of reference was, and realize for yourself, "Oh, of course! This is a young scientist just getting started on a wonderful career of exploring the whole world! I need to encourage this kind of behavior, not try to eliminate it."1

1Gall, J. Dancing with Elves. Parenting as a Performing Art. Walker, Minnesota. General Systemantics Press, 2000, pp. 61-63.

1. Those Big Sharp Teeth
2. Feeding The Dog
3. Something in a Name
4. Surprise and Delight
5. The Danger of Don't



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