Monday, January 30, 2006

Building Rapport

As the oldest of five children, and a span of only eight years difference between us all, it is rare that we hear any charming, stories about our childhood, that start of with “When you were three did the sweetest/cutest/adorable thing…”, but rather most stories that were even remembered by my mom were about things like the time we flushed a diaper down the toilet, causing it to back up and flood the bathroom or how we decided to dig a hole in the backyard to make a swimming pool, or how my sister was rushed to the hospital on becoming ill due to a good ole fashioned water drinking contest. As my mother likes to tell us, the rest was pretty much a blur. There is this one story however, that she remembers and shares with me every Christmastime, that goes something like this…

When I was around three or four (age is of no consequence or importance in stories told by mom, as she never can remember them), I was suffering from extreme sensory overload one Christmas Eve, due to the fact that to accommodate our big extended family, Christmas ran several days. My mom kept insisting that I go to sleep, but I simply wouldn’t. Apparently, when she came into my room for the final time, we had a conversation that went something like this.

MamaSquare: “SquareGirl, you need to go to sleep.”
SG: “ I don’t want to go to sleep, I’m not sleepy.”
MS: “Well you need to go to sleep so that it will be Christmas”
SG: “When’s Christmas?”
MS: “Christmas is tomorrow”
SG: “What’s tomorrow?”
MS: “Well, It’s when you go to sleep…”
SG: “I don’t want to go to sleep. I’m not sleepy.”

And so the conversation went and apparently I eventually went to sleep because the next day, while we were opening presents, I looked up during the middle of all the mayhem and announced “It’s tomorrow!”

Of all the stories my mom could’ve chosen to remember, I am quite glad that she chose this one, as it is a constant reminder of how more abstract concepts about time such as “later”, “tomorrow” and “next time” can be taught and reinforced. It also reminds me how important it is to honor these phrases that are all too often thrown out without follow through in order to gain rapport. While I am going to be honest and say that I am not always perfect about this with the adult friends in my life, I make every effort to follow through when I tell a child I work with “next time I’ll bring you…”, “Wait a minute and I’ll…”, “tomorrow we are going to…”, “later you will get to…”. And because I honor my commitments to all of my little friends, I find that I build, a really important thing that often goes unmentioned in the training manuals and books, called rapport. Rapport doesn’t happen overnight, but I have found that the more I make promises of doing something at a future time and follow up, the more rapport I gain (imagine that!). The added value of building rapport is that you through rapport are also teaching more abstract concepts such as time, and you never know when one of your little students is going to look up at you to let you know that "it’s tomorrow."

9 Comments:

Blogger Kristina Chew said...

"Honoring out commitments to our little friends": This is a lovely way to put our need to follow-through for our kids, just as we expect them to follow through for us.

9:04 PM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

I agree Kristina, I believe that we should honor our committments, while expecting our friends to honor theirs...when this is made clear, it makes quite a difference!

9:18 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

So, you were difficult as a child?

8:55 AM  
Blogger mommyguilt said...

Great post! Yes, that concept of abstract time is a hard one for our friends sometimes.

10:29 AM  
Blogger gretchen said...

Henry spends so much of his time and energy worrying about where daddy is right now, where mommy is, when he will see us again. Is it a school day or a stay home day? You'll see daddy after he exercises, etc. etc.

And then after we do something he wants to re-hash that. We went to the zoo, we went to the library. We had a nice weekend... I can tell that he's working so hard to sort out in his mind how things are "supposed" to be- I guess so he can categorize things and there won't be any suprises?

12:15 PM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

why er no doug, what would EVER make you assume tha? ;)

mommyguilt, I think it is hard, which is why I like to use calendars, visula schedules, etc. and constantly reinforce what I say will happen...keeps me on my toes!

Gretchen, I think that all kids are like that to some extent, yet have different ways of internalizing it. Me and my sisters always beggedd my mom to sing the "day's song", which was basically a song that she made up as she went along and sang about what we would be doing over the next day, week, year, etc. We loved it!

6:56 PM  
Blogger gretchen said...

The "day's song" idea makes me smile. I bet Henry would like that. Sometimes he says "you want me to tell you about what day it is?" (Translated- I want you to tell me about what day it is.)

7:34 AM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

gretchen, by the way...my own dear sweet mom's name is gretchen! I don't know why I didn't mention that before...

11:02 PM  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

I was never sleepy either. So annoying to be told to go to sleep!

11:21 AM  

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