How do you know if you need to rethink your values and your parenting practices?
This is the topic for today’s blog. Several years ago, the answer to this question came to me in a flash of a second when I entered someone’s home.
The story goes like this: I entered a home and the two children, a girl 5 and boy 7 were each at their own computer playing a game. They each a friend over as I recall. They were all yelling, Get him! Kill him! I got you! You are dead! etc!
For me it was a shock, because I’m not used to hearing this from children. I learned that in this game, each person takes on an identity and then you try and catch or kill each other! Is this the type of "games" we want our kids to play? Is this the focus we want our kids to have?
Sometimes, ways of playing, ways of speaking, can sneak into one's life so quietly, that they are not noticed by the parents. However, as an outsider, coming into this situation, I saw it with "new eyes". When such language is being used, even if it is a game, I believe it's a clue that something needs to shift.
STOP! LOOK! AND LISTEN!
Shortly after this I developed the following way of accessing whether or not you may want to rethink your parenting values and/or strategies.
You want to plan a time when you can sit down and relax! You want to just relax and take time out to observe your child or children at play. It would be nice if you plan out at least an hour of time to do this little exercise.
Create an environment for your children, where they have a variety of things for them to do, preferably without support from you.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, find a comfy chair and sit down with a notebook in hand.
Be sure you have some appropriate options available for them to play with, so they aren't doing something they should NOT be doing, as in the picture here!
Observe your children at play. Are they enjoying themselves? Do they treat each other with kindness? If there is a challenge are they able to work it out? Do they need to ask you for support every 5 minutes, or can they play independently?
Write down your observations with objectivity. Also, try not to intervene during this one hour unless you need to. It’s an opportunity for you to be the “watchful observer” and not participate.
As part of your observation, also note the language that is exchanged between the children. Is it polite? Is it encouraging? Is the tone a pleasant one? Do they help each other as they play?
Years ago I knew a family who always told her children that they would also be together in life…so they should be each others BEST FRIEND. The children had 4 years between them, but played together so sweetly. It was a JOY to watch.
EVALUATION OF YOUR OBSERVATION:
After the observation and your wonderful hour with you coffee or tea, put your notes away and go about your day. Let everything just settle in. No doubt you’ll have flashes come to you of what you observed from time to time.
A day or so later, sit down with your notes, in a quiet place and review in your mind’s eye what you saw and heard. Review your notes. And then ask yourself these questions:
1. Were the children happy?
2. Did they play in a peaceful manner?
3. Were they age-appropriately independent?
4. Did they speak to each other or me nicely?
5. Was their language appropriate?
6. Is there anything I did not like seeing?
7. Is there anything I did not like hearing?
8. Are there any changes I’d like to see happen with their play?
It is very important not to do this review with any guilt about what took place or expectations. Accepting “what is” I’ve learned is SO crucial for our emotional health. “Accepting what is”, is the first step and then from there one can begin to make changes.
Life is always a journey of learning, changing and releasing. No one is perfect. And at the same time, growing and changing is part of this life. And as one does change and grow, it brings fulfillment to the individual as well as the family.
If you were pleased with all that you saw, then perhaps there are no changes you need to make! And if you saw some things that you didn’t especially like, you will want to teach your child/ren some new skills?
INTRODUCTION TO VALUES-BASED PARENTING:
If this is the case, I invite you to enjoy me for a Complimentary Introduction to VALUES-BASED PARENTING. It’s a free 75 minutes tele-class. Click below for further details. Click Here!
Know that when you change just ONE small thing, it can shift everything. And I'd be delighted to support you in the process.