I often find that the most tender moments, while working with children, is when I am quiet- just watching and listening. This is NOT an easy thing to do for me. But when I can resist the urge to use a constant commentary, parallel talk, on their life and their choices and just watch- I am rewarded in big ways. Being an intentionally quiet witness to their world for just a short moment.
I have witnessed a 4-year-old child being brave, by going up to a friend in conflict and offering to help them, with no prompting. I have quietly tip toed behind a 15 month old proudly collecting leaves from the sidewalk, on freshly learned-to-walk legs. My favorite moment in the classroom happened when a 3 year-old corralled her peers to all work together, secretly, to ball up white paper and start a "snow ball race" in the classroom- this consumed the class for a solid 45 minutes. In all these moments it was so difficult to not make a comment on my thoughts about what was happening, but I knew if I had I would ruin a good thing.
Often times I hear adults create a constant narrative around children. Implanting their own perspectives in their child's actions, asserting their own beliefs about what is happening. I have witnessed this even become a distraction to the children's play. When not executed with intention, it can even disinterest the continuing of play. The practice of intentional parallel talk is valid- create a word rich environment to help children label and identify what their actions. But there is a fine line between making mindful commentary and creating white noise.
This is where I find the power of quiet to come into focus.
Here are some questions to ask before speaking up:
- Will my comments add value to or distract from my child's play?
- What is my child working on learning in this moment?
- Do I need to talk to guide my child, or just watch their process?
- Who is this for? Am I talking in age appropriate ways?
- Have I turned into a broadcaster?
Instead of commenting, here are some things to ponder:
- Notice how much your child's skills have grown in the past week, month, year.
- Be aware of how well your child can entertain themselves with out need of intervention.
- Think about what unique way is your child figuring out a complex problem in their play.
- Be confident in holding space for them to explore in, independently.
With the holidays so close and the bustle of everyone coming and going, I urge you to take a deep breath and a pause. Look around and just soak in everything that is going around. Be grateful for your role in all of it. Be present in the moments with your family. In these moments of constant catching up and chatting, enjoy a quiet moment for me to just watch and enjoy the happiness of your tribe!
P.S. My next blog post will be all about some exciting family engagements for the new year! Each month there will be a low cost/free event around Richmond to promote a fun activity for your family. Find them right here! The idea being- you can invite anyone in your circle to come join and meet other like minded families in the area! The first one is January 7th!
If you are finding it difficult to find a quiet moment and would like some help in the new year, please contact me! I would love to set aside some time that I can come and listen to you.