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Conversation Tools - Trying

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When we hear "I'll try" from our children we generally have one of two responses: we drop it, or we bury them in shame for their failure thus far trying to impress upon them their need to do not try. Both of these responses do not deal with the conflict at hand or the future conflict that will arise when "I'll try" turns into another failure.

When we hear "I'll try" that should be our cue to ask an important question: "What does trying look like?"

Say John is always late for school. Mom is getting very tired of having to walk him in after the bell rings to check him in. They've had the conversation about how John's actions are affecting the situation, and John sees the problem, but he responds that he will try to do better. Mom can now identify with John what it looks like to try. Perhaps John can have his clothes picked out the night before, and he can set his alarm earlier. 

Let's try another one. Jane has gotten a letter sent home again because she has shouted at another kid at school. We've done all our listening and used all our other skills, and Jane has said she will try to keep her temper in control. Now, mom must identify what it looks like to try, what are the things that Jane needs to do to prepare herself to "try" to keep her temper in control. Jane can practice mindfulness each night before bed, or other calming exercises for a set time each day. She can practice telling a teacher before it gets to an escalated point, etc.