I’m not alone in how I see children, there are people that inspire me to be better and more thoughtful and more patient – folks like Robin Enzig of Visible Child and Teacher Tom. Having expectations are developmentally appropriate and fair make things a lot easier. Boundaries are created and kept and gently supported. Feelings are allowed. Children are supported and set up for success instead of pushed towards one thing or another. Children are spoken to as people, not play things or cute puppies.
We tried a class today that ended up being vaguely stressful for me, and I don’t think we’ll do it again for a while. I’ve been curious about circus school with jumping and climbing and bouncing and stretching. But we went to a program for the under 4 set, and it was so structured and was full of false praise and expectations, and it seemed so out of step with reality. They were pretty flexible though, so they still seemed reasonable about it, but the words they used, the tone of their voice, their actions, and developmentally inappropriate expectations didn’t work very well for me. Or my son.
I’m not sure what the solution to this is – I can’t change the world, and I cannot change how I feel about disrespectful behaviour towards children, so we’re likely just not going to go back there – because for now, while I can’t change the world, I can change the world my son is exposed to and hope for the best.
I think of it as developing a framework of respect at home – you scaffold a positive sense of self – encourage empathy with others – and build on that. Once he’s a bit older, I hope our efforts leave him with a positive foundation to build up from as he interacts with more and more people. Together we make a good team, we interact, he seems to know that my rules and boundaries are not arbitrary, and have some kind of reasoning behind them. I find that I can remember how I felt as a child, and that has greatly influenced how I see things – maybe people have forgotten what it was like and are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, but so am I.