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The wonders that happen when we hold our tongue

There are so many times each day when I could impose my thinking on my little people. Because after all, we’re the adults and our job is to teach isn’t it? But if we look at the situation through little eyes…how can we know best?We’re old eyes! We’re experiencing the situation, whatever it may be, from our experiences, thoughts, beliefs, anxieties, expectations…that’s our stuff! That is our heavy burden! Let’s not lay it on our 5 year old who has their own 5 year old view of things.

When we shout “Be careful!”, is that helpful to our child or is it our worry? Obviously if our child is in danger of any sort we need to act. We can still act, however, with respect – setting boundaries and explaining from their perspective why we needed to intervene to keep them safe.

When we tell out little one to share the toy they are playing with, are we really teaching them to take turns or are we concerned what other parents will think if we don’t say the appropriate thing.

When we tell our little people that something must be played with a certain way, are we not trusting that they will be able to figure it out in their own time? And in doing this, are we not robbing them of the problem solving and creativity that they can bring to the task?

In stepping in, or interfering in the process our child is in, we need to be wary of the messages we are giving them, may be messages that we adults have ringing in our ears on a daily basis…

“You’re not good enough”

“You can’t be trusted to do that”

“Your thinking is wrong on that”

“You’re unable to figure that out on your own”

When our children are growing and experiencing life, surely giving them  messages of trust, love, patience, acceptance and resilience  are more important than whether they eat all their tea; share their favourite toy or put the bricks together in the way they are “meant” to be? If we show love, trust, patience, which I see as the foundations, then when the child is ready, and with trust, they will do all this stuff for themselves, rather than just to please us.

So on my mission to hold my tongue, here are a few examples from our house….

#1 – When asked in a restaurant whether F (2) would like peas or salad with his meal. He replied “salad please…I like salad”.

[My unspoken words….”What?!? You don’t like salad! Have peas!]

He had salad. He ate two whispy pea-shoots, all chuffed with himself. So yes, as I thought, he barely touched his salad but he is understanding he can make decisions for himself. He now knows he likes pea shoots and is trying new things.

#2 – H (5) having an argument with his friend who had come round to play after school. Lots of shouting, tension in throats, tears.

[My unspoken words…please stop shouting at E, let’s see if we can sort it out, let’s go and say sorry]

I had no idea what had started the argument. I moved close to H, saying nothing but he knew I was there for him if he needed. E’s Mum did the same. H tried to connect but E wasn’t ready. He shouted a solemn goodbye. E got upset because she wanted to give him a cuddle.  They cuddled…and then had a kiss.

Had we interfered with the aim of “fixing the problem” we would have sprinkled in some shame, some guilt, some embarrassment in the space where actually they were able to air and process their feelings and work out what they’d like to do to re-connect with each other.

#3 F (2) climbed to the top of the slide. He stood at the top, looking poised to slide down.

[My unspoken words...”Come on down, put your bottom down, come on, you can do it!]

He climbed back down the steps, trusting his own judgement. His unspoken words…”Not yet”.

Now I will give an example when words splurged from my mouth that should have remained unspoken…!

#4 Me and both boys walking through a woodland area on a caravan site. F (2) …”Mammy I’m scared, can I have a carry?”. Reluctantly I picked him up. H (5)…”Mammy I’m scared, I don’t want to walk any more. I want to go back to the caravan”.

My actual spoken words…”Jeepers boys, we’re one minute in to our adventure, and you two don’t want to explore or have fun. Most boys would be running around and making dens!”

[My unspoken words…Jaclyn, JUST STOP TALKING NOW!!]

So what did H do? He started running around pretending to have fun. I felt really bad. I’d basically shamed him in to playing. I said sorry.

May be like in the other examples, if I’d breathed and paused and kept my opinions to myself, the children may well have had an adventure, ran around and had some fun. For real.

As Magda Gerber, founder of RIE said…”Let your child be the scriptwriter, the director and the actor in their own play”. Not so easy but worth it. It’s beautifully surprising when they respond, on their own accord, in a way that makes you, and more importantly, themselves proud. That big fat swollen heart feeling.

#trust #chooseloveoverfear #respectfulparenting #challengethenorm #havefaith #connectedcommunication #connectedparenting #consciousparenting #RIE #trustyourself #lifethroughlittleeyes