Friday, February 23, 2024

Use Your Words!

October 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Parenting From Balance©

It is Never too Early to Begin Reasoning with your Child.

Parenting can be like tobogganing down a flight of stairs on a swatch of cardboard: smooth and easy, with just a couple of (well placed) bumps and bruises!  A good guideline for accomplishing this is to swap shoes with your child: treat them as you would like to be treated.  And like Horton says: “People are People no Matter How Small.”

My son (who is not a genius though I would like to think he is) could communicate his feelings very well at 18 months.  He told me that there were “too many kids” at nursery school, he told me that “Walter is my mean friend” because “he hits me” and much more. Pretty sophisticated communication for a tot who was still cutting his linguistic teeth.  And yet, in my experience, this level of communication it is simply typical of what the children at playschool are capable of.

At playschool, we start from a place of assuming that the children may be able to understand at least part of our communication.  If we were instead to assume they could not understand, then the limits would be instantly set in stone (by us!)  So instead, while we don’t require them to understand, we do provide them with an opportunity to if they are able.

And we don’t forget that even non verbal cues (our actions) are an impressive and sometimes indelible form of communication.

As you know, in the world of NVC (which includes playschool, of course) we do not punish as a way to control behavior.  Instead, we view behavior as a tactic to meet an unmet need.  We look under the behavior to identify the unmet need, and then coach the child with a better, more successful tactic they could use instead.  Punishment teaches nothing more than bullying.  Especially in the case of hitting — how would punishment teach a person that hitting/hurting is not OK?  How would hurting a person teach them not to hurt others?

In the case with many children who hit, they often have caretakers who use force with them.  They do so with the best of intentions — for example, they pull things out of their children’s hands out of fear that the child will hurt themselves or break the object in question, or they move their child bodily rather than asking them to move.  But the net result is that they use force as a means to control behavior. This teaches the child, very experientially, to use force with other children as a way to engage, and to control.

A good guideline for interacting with children is to swap shoes: we like to strive to treat others as we would like to be treated.  And from there, it is all like tobogganing down a flight of stairs on a swatch of cardboard: smooth and easy, with just a couple of bumps and bruises!



Riviera PlaySchool in Redondo Beach, CA


A Mindful program for the ‘Whole Child,’ inspired by the best of Attachment Parenting, Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf and Compassionate Communication.

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