The highlight of the day was buying “school shoes”. For those of you who don’t know what these are – well, they are extremely expensive and just about as ugly black leather shoes, that are said to be comfortable and appropriate footwear. Fanny, had already gotten the idea of uniforms and made her pick on a – need I mention, atrociously expensive – pair, rather swiftly. Johanna on the other hand, simply said NO. Ugly shoes, she said, I am not wearing those, she told the shop assistant. She pointed at a pair of glittery sneakers with pink laces: I want those!
As a parent you have a couple of strategies to choose from in such a situation. You can ignore the child, but that’s only a good idea if the child’s reaction is clearly inappropriate and they have already understood the rules in a situation. Validating the child’s feelings is better and often makes everyone feel better. So something like – “Yes, they are quite different to what you are used to wearing and you don’t really like them”, can be helpful. That’s usually a good start, but then what? Bribe, ultimatum? I personally prefer to call it compromise. So I told Johanna that I really could see that the black shoes were nothing like the ones she seemed to like in the shop, but that in Australia, kids need to wear special school shoes. Then I also told her she could get a pair of black mini-boots with metal buttons on it for out of school use if she helped choose a pair of shoes she would use at school. She walked out happily in her new boots she needed to have anyway and commented that the school shoes were actually comfortable.