There are moments within our parenting when we feel absolutely helpless. Our little rebel cries down on the floor in a supermarket like an aspiring drama actor, a 3 year old tries to bite his sister’s arm, an 8 year old daughter wanders along the rooms like a zombie after being cut out from her favorite cartoons or a teenager keeps forgetting how to form a single sentence using the word ‘please’. All this while we’re told to keep calm. It seems like pretending that it doesn’t rain cats and dogs and keep walking at our slow pace with our heads tucked deep into our shoulders. Impossible ? Not here in Scotland, where rains quite often. Many Scots seem to not give a damn about rain. They accept it and walk around as if nothing has changed. No umbrella, however maybe a hood on but preferably not too much effort to protect themselves from rain.
It works well with kids too. Actually there is no need for shouting, do a little, if any effort to quickly gain control, there is no need to change your mood. Maybe I should just understand, that in this little world of my child’s, it has to rain at this time of his/her life. Maybe I should just focus on how to change my wet clothes and warm up with hot tea after finally coming back home. Maybe I should just let it rain and look at this wonderful sky a bit more.. I am absolutely sure that my child is unique and despite these clouds they have an incredible ability to shine with their talents and wonders. Rain is just a fraction of the whole world. It will go away one day and a drought may come, so let it rain today… a bit… just drizzle … in another room maybe, please…
Balance – a cool word. Well balanced diet, balanced mind and relationships. Unfortunately in some periods of our lives, balance is like a space flight. I would love to take a chance but they surely won’t accept me: I’m unlikely to swim 3 lengths of the pool in a flight suit and tennis shoes plus I won’t be able to memorize manuals and I will definitely lose my consciousness during the launch.
Many moms complain about their lack of leisure time since having a child (dads usually nod politely to sympathize with a spouse without any remarks regarding their needs). I complain too, but deep inside I know that it shouldn’t be about blaming my children, because parenting is my privilege even if it’s a bit too heavy sometimes. It is my duty to be an efficient manager and to sort out my roles as a mother, women, partner and just me. Sometimes we just try too hard to tightly wrap up our kids in cotton wool by trying to predict many potential and harmful consequences of their behavior. Better to cut it loose from us. The earlier you do it, the easier.
My mother never complained when raising me and my 5 siblings. Not even a word about her leisure time. Nevertheless she changed her attitude when she became a grandma and looked at her grandchildren with a different perspective: – ‘let your kids be independent as often as possible, care about yourself and don’t skimp on your personal happiness!’ True, but not easy, especially when you are a single parent or have a disabled child or the helpful hands of your family are far across the ocean.
We don’t own children nor raise them for our profit. Call for balance when they make your blood boil and get out of the kitchen. Grab a cup of coffee with a friend, go shopping, immerse yourself in a cinema chair. I bet you’ll be more satisfied with these simplicities than with a space flight. However no interviews nor paparazzi will be waiting at your home. Only unspoken gratitude of a relaxed parent’s kid that is worth more than anything. Oh! And maybe one day this relaxed childhood will profit in your child’s future as a very real space flight. You never know.
I haven’t got a TV. Not because I’m a hipster mum or due to some kind of new fashion. Some time ago I was working as a TV and radio journalist. When I left – the tide had turned. Getting rid of the screen was the best way to cut my addiction from the news. It was fruitless, greedy and an unnecessary habit. It wasn’t improving my well-being nor any of my relationships. I needed to tune out.
I avoid being an advocate of the ‘zero TV’ policy but every time I meet other parents who don’t know what’s up on the latest ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ episode I feel like breathing in the same air through my nostrils:
‘The sea is quiet today’…
‘Sure. Silence is golden. Shouldn’t rain anyway. I’ll probably do some running. You?’
‘Well, maybe take my kid for a stroll. Or read…’.
TV is a statement. It’s a language. It’s the news. It’s also a companion and an entertainer. The child, who watches it since its birth learns a bit but not enough to speak. In order to build a dialog we need somebody who LISTENS and ANSWERS. TV doesn’t, instead it offers talking heads. By watching them a child barely improves their own communication skills by picking up some new words. It could be beneficial if only an adult had used these words in a real context. Apart from that, TV brings many side effects such as poor concentration, weaker aural learning and brain fatigue due to fast changing visual impulses.
Try to switch off the TV and hide it from your eyes, if this message doesn’t convince you. I bet your child will be angry at the beginning, then bored but eventually they will become creative with whatever possibilities are around. Hopefully a computer won’t be an alternative then!
I don’t like dealing with angry people, especially when trying to learn a new skill. An impatient teacher is the least desired here – the one who pushes with ‘oh it’s so easy!’ prompts. Whereas, what I need instead is more time, and cheering crowds behind shouting, ‘knock it down!’. Let the flags wave high, let the drums bang loud, let the people scream and inspire me before the start! This is the most desired learning atmosphere. I can then achieve anything!
The same applies to a child who learns how to walk, speak, write or remember to turn off the light in a bathroom. Nothing comes easily at the beginning except from improving your best talents (these are completely natural). Negative approaches and impatience are killing the process unlike positive encouragement and commitment. If the crowd says : ‘Keep going, never say die!’ then I will make that first step, name my favorite toy, write my name and yes! Try to remember about the light in a bathroom.
Patience is essential when working and playing with children. It’s about waiting and acceptance, about intense observing to notice the first signs of success. We can’t correct nor support too often. Better to praise these little achievements, for example when a baby says its first words. They are not perfect, but closer to our language then gestures. One day the very same kid will be able to complete long sentences difficult to follow, and form questions difficult to answer. Then the patience will be challenged again, but in a different way…
Kids can play endlessly – sometimes my impression is that their whole day is built around numerous play-times with interruptions for quick meals and sleeping. Everything can be a game for them : opening and closing a drawer, dropping different toys to check the sound they make, building a tower, changing a doll’s clothes, flicking through a book, hiding in a wardrobe, travelling on a suitcase when on a way to a different place… These little joys are the best ways to explore the world to find out the answers, to give new skills a try, to copy others, to push boundaries. Nothing is incidental in this world, everything has its purpose.
Once a child is capable of inviting another person into this great world of play, a significant change occurs. A child is expanding its ‘me’ world and getting ready to socialize. This is exactly the moment when language therapy can start, because a dialog begins to bound two people.