There is a scene I witnessed recently that I just can’t get out of my head. A small free spirit was tamed that day. Instead of receiving confirmation, trust, and an open mind, it was all about limits, control, and restriction.
Not long ago, my son and I went to the playground, and when we arrived, there was another boy. He was about 2,5 years old full of play, joy, and hope. The boy went to the toy storage by the sandbox to take out some toys to play. And from here onwards it seemed a constant stream of no’s from the mother.
The little boy started taking out toys from the toy storage and after two toys the mother said that this was enough. No further toys were needed and she closed the toy storage. It was the first time the little boy looked disappointed and started crying and fussing.
Then accepting the situation, he moved on and wanted to take his two cars somewhere to play and started walking. Again his mother interfered and told the little boy that he has to play in that corner of the sandbox. One more time, the boy started crying. His mom answered that they leave if he continues to cry.
Alright, he started playing. By then we moved closer and my son started taking toys out to play within the sand. As you may have guessed, he took quite a few cars and other tools out and started to line them up neatly in the sand for his play. The other boy was watching curiously and then came over looking at the cars. Unsurprisingly he wanted to play with some of the toys. My son was watching but didn’t mind the interference. That said the little boy’s mother, on the other hand, interfered straight away stating that he shouldn’t take toys from other kids. When my son offered the little boy a car his mom just said no. Now the tears were rolling down the other child’s face.
His dad who was in the background until now decided to step in. He took his son and started playing with him. Distracting him from what was going on. The two of them playing nicely together.
After 5 minutes or so the little boy’s mom said she got cold and therefore it’s time to leave. She took the cars away from her little boy and put them back in the toy storage. Now the little boy started fussing again and refused to leave. She picked him up and carried him away.
How often do you say no to your children?
Have you ever been in a situation like that? I for sure have.
When I told the story to a friend, she laughed and said it sounds just like her. And that that’s scary. How often are we unaware of our behavior towards our children?
It’s so easy to get carried away, wanting our kids to adjust to our needs. Probably thinking sometimes that since I took you to a playground, it’s now time to change to my wishes. And in doing saying NO way more often then we want to.
Often it’s so easy to change and say yes, but first, we have to catch ourselves. That is the hardest part.
In this above scenario, it would have been easy to give a warning at the end, preparing the child that departure time is coming and that it’s time to finish the game. While our schedules force us sometimes to finish a game or leave a playground, it’s incredible what some encouraging, kind words or a heartfelt explanation can do. These words will confirm the child it’s listened to and respected that he or she is valued and his or her wishes matter, even though they can’t always be acted on.
It would have been fun to see where that little boy would have chosen to play and set up his games, or how the interaction with my son could have turned out without any parental interference.
Maybe next time.
How do we raise self-confident, strong and independent children when we tell them what, how and where to do things. While this could have turned out as a great family time it looked rather painful for everyone involved. The father not speaking up, the child crying several times and the mother just seemed annoyed with the situation.
My heart broke that day a little for all of us who have experienced something similar. I believe our children are worth to be trusted and said yes too. They benefit to explore and create their own world. The foundation built in the early years and the extra time invested with them will pay off later life.
Hugs, Kisses and Chocolate – Cathleen
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