Friday, September 24, 2010

Who Guides us?

Guiding children is a big responsibility. Who guides us? Where do we get the ideas and creativity to respond in the moment to yet another challenge? How do we maintain our energy?

Each of us has our own answers to these questions. And when my children were young, the answers often came after their bedtime. I had some of my own time... even if just for a few hours. The days could be quite exhausting.

As they got older, I could more easily carve out time for myself. I have several hobbies I enjoy. And I also found some books that helped to reenergize me. I have been a parent educator since my children were little. Going to classes and support groups with other parents helped a great deal too. I was often facilitating those groups, but I got alot from them as well. I'm not alone. I could identify with many of the stories and experiences that were shared. I also kept a journal that I would write in occasionally when I was feeling especially frustrated. It helped to see the issue in black and white. It got my feelings out of my head and relieved some of the tension.

Today, I still find reading, writing and sharing very helpful. I find that my "inner teacher" can speak to me during these times and give me ideas or a sense of gratitude and peace. We all have moments when we admit we are out of ideas. Walking, sharing with a friend. Having someone to just listen as I describe what's going on often miraculously helps me to find my own answers. We all need support. We are not supposed to go through life alone. It is okay to ask for help.... to ask...

Have a great day today.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Learning to share

The little one pushes and shoves. She hits her sister when she wants a toy. She screams when she wants to play, too. She is just two years old. Her four year old sister has always been more mellow, even seems patient, and at times long-suffering, putting up with her sibling's pushy-ness. She has lately been starting to scream in pain or fear or frustration sometimes even before the expected "attacks" of her sister. Life with these two, from morning to bedtime is overwhelming. Mom thinks, "what have I done wrong? Where did these two come from?" How can I ever get some peace?" There is always some kind of hassle to mediate. It never stops.

First, this scenario is very "normal" and typical for many households. The youngest doesn't have all her verbal and social skills yet, and the oldest has learned how to deal with these situations. What varies most from family to family is the adult reaction. Even though it seems impossible to manage in the moment, it is important to respond to both children calmly. Any time we bring our own charged reaction, we are modeling just what we want the girls to avoid. We want them to be more loving toward each other, we need to be loving ourselves. Loving doesn't mean that we allow people to walk all over us and do what they will. But our response can be kind and firm at the same time.

The youngest needs to be taught to use words and ask before grabbing. "Be gentle with sister. Ask sister - 'toy, please.'" And the oldest needs to be taught about sharing. If she doesn't want to share a very special toy or the thing she is working on right this minute, she can find something to offer her sister in trade. Children need many, many demonstrations and reminders before it clicks and they learn to say or do the acceptable behavior before the inappropriate one immerges.

Sharing doesn't come easy for most children, and to be honest, for us adults either. We have some special things that we don't want to share either. There will be many opportunities to practice and model this and other social behaviors. Our children are born with a huge reservoir of potential. The skills they learn are at least partly dependent upon the skills we demonstrate. What are they seeing us do or hearing us say?