Sunday, April 1, 2012

Listening to the Heart

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Colby Brown
Life Lesson of the Day

"Its Impossible." Said Pride.
"Its risky." Said Experience.
"Its pointless." Says Reason.
"Give it a try." Whispered the Heart.

Children listen to their hearts.  Pride, experience, reason, common sense, and good judgement don't stand in the way of a child who has an idea.

Years ago I was speaking with a parent.  Her daughters were tossing their guinea pig back and forth across the living room.  The mom lost her temper and reprimanded the girls.  Later on the youngest, who was 5 at the time. said, "Mom, we just thought it would be fun for our guinea pig to fly."

Any one who has served a toddler spaghetti, ice cream, or chocolate pudding and then turned their back for a second, knows that toddlers like to play with their food. 

Children on playgrounds naturally want to climb to the highest rung on the jungle gym (do they still use that term?) and hang upside down on jump off.

I am sure some of you in your younger years have tied wagon to your bicycle to give rides to other children rides down the street.

How can you be angry at a child who is trying out an idea?  Children are not born with what we call "common sense".  They have innate curiosity and the need to experiment with the notions and ideas that come into their heads.  As parents and teachers we need to keep the children (and their pets) safe.
How do we do our jobs while letting children explore and experiment?

There is no simple answer to this question.  I think it comes down to our attitude.  Of course we want children to have ideas.  Of course we want children to experiment with their environments and discover how things work.  Of course we want children to use good judgement.  Of course we want our children to be safe.

Can this be done without repeatedly saying "no"?  Maria Montessori says "The child is the father of the man."  I interpret this to mean that the type of adult you turn into depends on the type of childhood you have.  As a parent your attitude and your speech patterns provide a framework for how the child views herself.

Positive ways of redirecting children who are being unsafe can include phrases like;
"Wait, I can help you."
"Let's think of another way to do this."
"Tell me what you are trying to do."
"Let's talk about your idea."
Of course you never interfere when a child says, "I can do it myself."  But it is a good idea to keep a watchful eye on the child's attempts to execute her idea.

Children who are encouraged to explore and experiment will continue to do so their whole lives.  They will become leaders, scientists, inventors, humanitarians and philanthropists.  Allow children to listen to their hearts and then guide them to try things in the safest possible way.

Be positive, be present, be a parent.

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