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I have been reading up on Jean Piaget’s ‘schemas’as a part of my counselling training. It occurred to me how I can look at my 2 year old’s healthy exploration as a problem sometimes, when really it is just a healthy part of his learning and development. For example (and I bet many of you can relate to this..) he will mix his food in with his drink at meal times. Piaget would likely have classified him as being in the process of learning through ‘transporting’ and ‘transforming’ schemas. (Changing the properties of objects and moving from one place to another). Being more aware of where my son is at with these schemas has enabled me to adapt my thinking to support him. This is one idea that is working well at meal times:
I put only a small amount of food on my son’s plate and allow him to engage in his learning play with his food and a cup of water. I have a plate of food and separate drink that I give to him as he is satisfying his needs with his transporting and transforming. He feels in control and is happy, whilst I am satisfied that he is getting enough to eat.
I will be posting further ideas on how to meet the needs of other schemas that may be presenting difficulties for you as a parent on my facebook page.
As a Montessori trained teacher, I always return to her infinite wisdom for a powerful perspective. As parent's, we can get so carried away with our future hopes for our children that the importance of the here and now for them can be diminished. This is their time! It is these precious early days when all the most vital learning occurs.
Whether you would say you are spiritual or not, we cannot deny the importance of inner connection. A little removed time to connect with our core. This can be done in so many ways and is especially important with our hectic lifestyles and abundance of tasks and chores. If I feel myself becoming stressed with my children, one simple thing I do is to take an inner step back. I check in with my emotions and self-regulate. A few slow breaths then reconnect with them.
Before moving my 2 year old to his big brothers room to share bunks... I knew I needed to make a happy, comforting association for him with his new sleep environment. We had lots of cuddles and stories on his bunk for weeks before the move. He would play gentle games and have cosy time there. By the time the move came good links had been made and the transition was a success.
I am an advocate of Carl Rogers Humanistic approach and have studied him extensively throughout my counselling training. He reminds us that our children are perfect just as they are and to not try to change the unique beings that they are.
Hang up the gloves.... How? Use empathy and connect.
Last night I caught my 5-year-old out, sneaking his tablet into his bed after bedtime. I knew his pride and will were hurt as a full-blown tantrum quickly ensued and several soft toys came hurtling in my direction.
At the end of a long hard day it can be a challenge not to react but I'm glad to say I can strike this one down to a success.
Whilst I said that throwing is not acceptable to me, I let him own his anger and know that I understood he felt angry enough to throw. I acknowledged that it's really hard to sleep when we don't feel tired or have something on else on our mind. He was already beginning to calm down with the empathy and a connection could then be made.
This allowed him to start again and settle into a calm bedtime. I was able to turn what could have been negative attention into positive praise for how he had managed to self-regulate and make a better choice.
His learning was that he is able to do this and that's a very empowering life skill!
When needs must and we have to take away choice from our children in a way that may heavily impact on them and take away from their feelings of independence, right, choice and identity. It's of real importance that we compensate in other ways and restore the balance and things we may have affected.
For example, say a 12 year old, desperate to attend a friends party is not allowed. The parent can then give greater choice and freedom in another area, such as choosing their wardrobe, bedtime on a certain night or curfew. This should be a one off each time to match the loss. Emphasis is put on the freedom (area of chosen autonomy) to help the child feel a restored balance and boost to their independence and self choice. This balance and respect for children will support them in so many ways.
I regularly update my Instagram blog and will be adding videos to Face Book. My You Tube channel is currently being developed. Please keep your eye out for my video posts that will cover a wide range of topics addressed with my trademark gentle, science backed methods.