What I Say and What She Hears: Constipated Communication With My Daughter
Dads, we are the masters of communication. We know it’s true. But for some reason, everyone that is female on this planet begs to differ. They just don’t listen very well. All kidding aside, this funny story caused me to rethink the words I use when speaking with my daughters, especially my youngest. My little one humbled me. I might not communicate as well as I think I do.
My little one sometimes has a problem with constipation. I give her fiber gummies, feed her high fiber foods, and Miralax as needed.
I think a lot of her problem is not taking the time to sit on the potty when she feels that pleasant little feeling down below.
I am teaching her how wonderful her body is at communicating with her. When she feels thirsty, drink a glass of water. When she feels tired during the day, let’s explore when we go to sleep at night. Grumpy? Nap time, definitely nap time. . . you get the idea.
The Message I Delivered “Perfectly”
The other day when we were walking into Pre-K, I was talking to her about potty habits. I told her that she needed to set some time aside each day where she would go sit on the potty. . . just in case, the large intestine wanted to make a shove.
I talked about her older sisters, and how they seem to poop the same time every day, several times actually.
Both of her older sisters are dying on the inside right now from embarrassment.
I talked about body rhythms, and explained that if she could sit on the potty in the morning, in the afternoon when she gets home from school, and once more a little later, she would begin to notice when her body is saying “take me for a poop.” And before she knew it, she would be going like her older sisters and stinking things up just like them.
Older sisters. . . doubly embarrassed. . . twice dead.
I concluded by saying, “You can’t skip. You have to go #2 every day. If you skip a day, it is going to be harder the next day. So do not skip. Ok?”
“Ok dad, I won’t skip,” she obediently replied.
Lost in Translation
Several days later when I was picking her up from Pre-K, she said. . . “Daddy, I have to tell you something.” “What’s that honey?” “Today when we were outside playing, I skipped.”
I was clueless where this conversation was going.
“That’s okay honey. Skipping is fun. I love skipping.”
Then, I skipped about 4 times, as several parents in the parking lot watched with amusement.
“Skipping is good, skipping is fun,” I said.
And then. . . she said. . .
“But dad, you told me not to skip. You said if I skipped, I couldn’t poop.”
10-second pause. . .
When I connected all of the dots, I exploded with laughter and then restated my poopy wisdom in a different way.
The Tree Didn’t Make a Sound
This is a funny story, and I bet every parent has a similar story to share about communication with their children.
But. . . this got me thinking. “How many times have my communications not come out as intended. . . unbeknownst to me?” I think it is the nature of dads to think we are the masters of clear and concise communication. I am now rethinking that.
Effective communication is like that tree that everyone talks about. . . the one that falls in the woods when no one is around to hear it. In my humble opinion, if no one hears it, it didn’t make a sound.
For communication to be effective, it has to be understood. My wife’s mom speaks very little English. In order for me to communicate with her, my wife has to translate. The sender and the receiver have to find a common ground. Dads, we have to find the common ground with our children.
This is an easy problem to overcome, with a few simple strategies.
- Think about the words we use, before we use them. Children are going to process our words based on their own experiences. To a child, “skip” is that fun, hopping thing that they do. When my middle daughter was very little, she told me she wanted to run for president, because she likes to run.
- Keep sentences short, and the words simple. Speak the message at the level of an early reader book.
- Clarify by asking for feedback. Ask your child to tell you what they heard you say, in their own words.
Share Your Funny Stories
If you have a funny story about communication misunderstandings with your children, please share. We all could benefit from the laugh, and we just might learn a thing or two.
John, a.k.a dadofthreewinds
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