A Different Perspective

My son has recently begun hating his carseat. In particular, he hates getting into it. I quickly realized that if I just hold him down for enough time, he will soon stop fighting and shortly after will stop crying. This is a very common parental response – make them do what you want until they lose the will to fight. And, sometimes, it’s necessary (especially when their health or safety is involved).

But, I became dissatisfied with this method of securing my son into his seat. I didn’t want the car to become something he dreaded, or something he feared. He should enjoy his day. So, I came up with another process that includes taking a lot more time, playing with a few toys and slowly working into the seat. Surprise, surprise: It works!  And, now he doesn’t throw very many fits if I do just skip straight to the seat and skip the toys.

What does this have to do with unschooling? Well, if you’ve read  any of my other posts, you may realize that I often take lessons from infanthood and extend them across childhood – and this one is no different.

I came to realize that my son’s experience was as important as mine.  Most parents do what they can to “make it” through the day. And, that can be a valid strategy occasionally. But, it should not be a way of life. Childhood is not for the parent – it is for the child. The child’s experience and perspective of the activities should be considered as important as the parent’s.  In the case of belting my child into his carseat, I was thinking, “I have to go to the bank, the grocery store, and the post office. Let’s get this kid in here so we can get going.” But my son has no internal need to go to those places. He’s being dragged along to my errands – a very tedious thing to a child. So, the least I can do is make the experience a little more fun for him.

So it is with education. Our society is so focused on the adult’s perspective of education, dragging the kids along to the various subjects and curricula. But we forget that childhood is for the children. It is their experience and perspective that should be respected. Instead, we hold them down until they have lost the will to fight.  And that is a tragedy.

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2 Comments on "A Different Perspective"

  1. apaulinaria
    28/04/2012 at 2:09 am Permalink

    And here this article is the answer to my comment on the article about respect. Thank you!

  2. Cassi
    28/04/2012 at 12:18 pm Permalink

    This post was written a couple of years ago, when my son was one. Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about parenting respectfully. I would suggest that you read more about Positive Parenting, and particularly look at Aha! Parenting, a site by Dr. Laura Markham. She’s a marriage and family therapist and has written scores of articles on how to parent children this way. You can search her site for a particular problem you’re having and find some incredibly helpful advice. I would also recommend subscribing to her newsletters.

    Just like our philosophy of education, this type of parenting takes a complete shift in assumptions. Instead of being about punishment and consequences and getting them to do what you want, parenting becomes about seeing from your child’s perspective and doing what’s best for the whole child. Remember that kids learn behavior through modeling. So, if we force our child to do something, or snatch something out of their hands, or spank them, they will learn to do that to others. But, if we have empathy and love, and use problem solving skills, they learn to do that in their own relationships. Also, we do a lot of playing. Physical play in particular helps you connect to your children and they want to please you because of that connection.

    For some practical advice, here are some techniques that work for us. First, empathize and acknowledge: “You love playing with my phone!” or “I bet you’d love to stay up all night.” Then state the limit: “The problem is, mama needs to make a call,” or “But it’s bedtime.” Then offer a choice (not a threat), “Do you want to play with your dolls or your legos instead?” or “Should we walk forwards or backwards to your room?” If she is having a hard time, don’t change the limit, but allow her to be sad about it and empathize with her sadness. Tantrums and fits are not kids trying to get attention or manipulate, they are venting their very real feelings and need our love through that. Keep empathizing and stay nearby until she has gotten all of her sadness out. Then, you will probably see a much happier and cooperative kid.

    All this means giving a lot more time to do things. But, it’s an investment in the future.

    Other ways to play through the day:
    Use a toy to speak your words (their imaginations are so active right now, her favorite stuffed animal will have more success getting her to brush her teeth than you will)
    Make up a game (we do a lot of racing in our house. My son always beats me. I would not recommend having your kids race each other. It should be kids against parents.)
    Use affection (“No shirt on yet? Oh good, now I can kiss your tummy all over! I hope you don’t put a shirt on, because then I can’t kiss your tummy!”)
    Use problem-solving (“Uh-oh, we have a problem! Can you help me solve it?”)
    De-personalize the rule (“In our house…” or “The rule is…”)

    I have about 10 more ideas. I actually wrote out a list and taped it to a wall in our house. I think I’ll add that to my blog post list.


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