We all have memories of secrets hidden from our parents and other grown-ups, of wanting to mark out the territories in our lives where they were not allowed to go. Sometimes these can be physical spaces, whether a private meeting place or a den or the sacred inner sanctum of a teenager’s bedroom, and sometimes the boundaries are more conceptual.
Language serves this purpose beautifully. In the past, youngsters have used back-slang, pig latin and other fabulously creative inventions to be able to communicate in ways that they suppose adults cannot understand (forgetting that they were once kids too!). I have known groups of children construct highly complex language codes which could be spoken and written fluently by the chosen few.
It's my bet that we all have the memory of one or more seemingly trivial events from our childhood that nonetheless had a deep and lasting impact on our emotional landscape. It strikes me as strange then, that it’s so easy to forget this in our communications with our own children.
Yes. This week I’d like to deal with the issue of attention. I’m not sure I understand exactly why it seems to be such a problem for us adults.
How many times have you heard a grown-up explain away, or dismiss, a child’s behaviour on the grounds that they are, “just doing it for attention” and have you ever stopped to think about what underpins that dismissal?
Recently I’ve been pondering how much harder we make everything by assuming that we know best, and our children need protecting from themselves.
I’m not sure how we got here. How did we get to a place where our initial reaction to what our children tell us, is often suspicion? Or rebuttal.
In a recent online conversation, a parent wrote this to me about her son:
“My job, I feel, is to encourage him. Build his confidence, not push his boundaries, therefore I practise believing him and believing in him. Who am I to break his dreams, fantasies and ponderings? What if he’s right and a Zombie apocalypse is nigh and we should prepare? What if his fear is justified? His pain is real and his worries make him stop still.