It’s amazing how the
things you learn in early childhood really do stick with you. When I
started thinking about the phrase, “Stop, drop, and roll” (at the oddest of
times- as usual), I wasn’t thinking about fire and fire drills. I was
thinking about flexible parenting. I am a person who feels comforted by
the idea that there are many ways to accomplish a task, teach a child, or feel
successful. I find this phenomenon bolstering. But my belief in this
concept also extends to the fact, that if I’ve made a good, concerted effort
and things aren’t going the way I’d hoped, then it’s time to “stop, drop, and
STOP, DROP and ROLL: What does it mean? And how does it relate to parenting?
Take, for example, sleep training. With a recent client, sleep training was the focus of conversation. The client wanted a map for all of the “what ifs.” And while, we can cover quite a few, the goal of our session and the best thing I could teach her was:
- How to STOP and evaluate the situation, reflect on her child, herself, and her goals;
- Know it was okay to DROP the plan we had created;
- And ROLL with the situation, by responding to her child in a way that was appropriate based on the reality of the situation.
Stop, Drop and Roll: In Action
The situation came up again with a family whose young son was separating for the first time at a day care program. The family initially reached out when both they and their child had quite a bit of difficulty saying goodbye and feeling confident in what would go on at day care while the parents were gone. We created a developmentally appropriate plan for saying goodbye to the child and talked about the parents’ concerns and how to address these between themselves and with the program. Each day Mom diligently wrote me an email letting me know how things were going and I responded with support for her actions and her understanding of her child. On day 3, things went “terribly” (Mom’s words, not mine). But this mom responded beautifully. She told me she thought about our work together, our plan, and the idea of Stop, Drop and Roll. On the spot, she decided she’d modify things a bit. Truth be told, the first thing she tried didn’t seem to help, but the second thing she added to her goodbye routine really seemed to comfort her child and she was able to leave with minimal tears. The next day she included the new part of the routine again, and while her child was a little sad, he hugged his teacher and waved goodbye.
Have a Plan…and Be Prepared to Change It
Having a plan with developmentally appropriate strategies and being prepared is important when challenging situations arise in your family. That said, knowing your child, yourself, your goals, and when to Stop, Drop, and Roll, can be just as important.