Dancing With The Feet Is One Thing, Dancing With The Heart Is Another 💖
As an ex-dancer there could never be a truer word said. It's in your heart, you dance at every opportunity, you sing the ryt and dance steps in your head. Unfortunately this love of dancing bug hasn't quite bitten my daughter yet. We tried and she is just not into it. Term 2, there are still tears, anxiety and stress.Ballet is just not for her. The ballet shoes have been hung up and maybe someday she will want to wear them again. It took me a while, but after weeks of hearing her, I eventually listened. Do you listen or just hear your children? It's something that has got me thinking. I know I for one hear my children far more than actually sitting down to listen. We all do it, we get caught up in the daily humdrum, the chaos of Monday -Friday, the fighting between siblings, the struggle of the juggle of work/home life balance and so on.
"Take a moment to listen today to what your children are trying to say, Listen to them, whatever you do or they won't be there to listen to you.
Listen to their problems, listen to their needs Praise their smallest triumphs, praise their littlest deeds; Tolerate their chatter, amplify their laughter, Find out what's the matter, find out what they're after."~ extract from Take A Moment by Dr.Denis Waitley.
What does listening mean? The listening I am talking about here is not just about receiving and storing information, not just about remembering what your child said. I am talking about listening with your heart, not just with your ears. Real listening is all about feelings. All you need to be a good listener is a genuine interest in your child's emotional world. When you truly want to hear, no special skill is needed. Your child senses your interest in the tone of your voice, in your body language and the look in your eyes. You know you have listened when you feel moved. You might feel compassion, protectiveness, you might feel some pain about your child's hurts, pride or excitement about his achievements, or joy to meet his joy.
Listening means letting yourself feel touched somehow, and being aware of the feelings that move through you. Real listening is all about feelings. What listening is not Sometimes listening comes easy. You find yourself intently listening in stillness, without even having decided to, and there is a wonderful and natural flow between you and your child. But sometimes listening can be hard. Our children's emotions spark off our own, and in discomfort we turn away, or we try to talk them out of their feelings. Whether it's because we cannot bear to see our children in pain or because they are freely feeling something that we were never allowed to express – anger, joy, sadness, fear, passion – we block them out, we nip the connection in the bud. Anyone can be a profoundly good listener, and let's not forget about listening to their emotions too.
One of the most commonly heard parental laments is about how children try to get attention. So many behaviors that adults don't like are brushed off as "merely" attention-seeking devices. "Don't worry about him," we say, "he is just doing it to get attention." When children use oblique ways to get attention, such as causing a ruckus, exaggerating or feigning their hurts, picking on other children, showing off, being coquettish – they risk being ignored or put down, as nearby adults roll their eyes in exasperation. Sometimes, this also happens to children even when they directly and openly call for the attention they crave. Instead of scorning the child, why don't we ask these questions: When a child is being manipulative, instead of direct, how did he learn to do this? How did he come to feel that he shouldn't openly ask for a hug, an answer to his question, sympathy or just to be noticed or played with?
All children begin their lives with complete frankness about their needs. Babies and toddlers reveal their longings with no compunction: what you see is what you get. If a child reaches out for attention and for warmth and she gets it, her ability to be open and directly assertive is reinforced. By begrudging our children's healthy attention-seeking behaviors, we unwittingly train them to be indirect. We leave them little room for much else, so they go for the attention they need and deserve through the back door. We unwittingly train our children to be indirect.
Our society tends to consider children's needs for attention as a bother. No wonder children become indirect attention seekers, some even going to great lengths to fall ill or get injured in order to be noticed. Attention is life-giving, a basic need and a human right. Children deserve all the attention they want. When you wholeheartedly give a child the attention she asks for from the beginning, she soon has her fill. This is precisely what helps her to become more autonomous. As she grows, she asks for less of your attention (research shows that well-attached babies grow into children who are more independent), and when she does want attention, she asks directly, boldly and clearly. Let's get this straight: emotions are not bad behavior. Emotions don't hurt anyone. Suppressing children's emotions does, on the other hand, cause them harm: over time, if done repeatedly, it unbalances their brain chemistry, it stresses their immune and digestive systems, and it undermines their ability to relate to others. Attention is a basic need and a human right. Emotional censorship starts early. One of the most common things we say to a crying baby is "Shhh!" We say it soothingly, but why exactly do we shush them? Think of all the lullabies that start by telling our little babies to "hush", and "don't you cry". Have you ever paused to wonder why, in trying to comfort our babies, we ask them to be quiet? It seems as if the first thing we want is for the crying to stop – instead of connecting with our baby until the reason for crying has gone. Instead of berating your child for feeling her feelings, give her the space to feel, and comfort and support her if she needs it. Sometimes when our children cry, sob or yell in anger we feel overwhelmed, irritated or burdened. Our children don't deserve the blame for this. When our child's emotions press our buttons, we need to own the problem. We need to somehow honor (this is something I really struggle with) our own need for support or rest without making our children responsible.
T, A & H xxxxxx