If you have more than one kid I am sure you have heard variations of this: “Tell them to stop, they are looking out my window.” The first time I heard this one was on a long car drive and I thought we had somehow entered a strange twilight zone. It was the holding a hand close to someone’s face “not touching” taken to whole other levels.
When our kids have arguments that make no logical sense it can be really strange and difficult to navigate. It’s easy to tell them how illogical they are and to just stop. I know I have done that, and if I am being honest, it is when I don’t have a good answer or response. Because it makes sense to them. And in these arguments or expression of need or desire they are really telling us the need behind the need.
They need their space. They need to be heard. They need their identity to be separate from their siblings. They are experimenting setting boundaries and taking care of their needs, no matter how odd or illogical they seem to us.
If you have followed me for any time at all really you might guess that I would talk about the speed of things. About taking a few breaths and slowing down to the point where those needs are met. So I will start doing that. You slow down. There are lots of ways to do it, tricks to use and things to do. But slowing down is key.
The other expected answer from me would be to make space. Space and pace are so closely related that when you focus on one the other follows.
I think it is so important that we as parents can step out of our own ego and perception and see what the world looks like and more importantly feels like for our kids, especially when it doesn’t make sense. In order to teach empathy we need to show and model it to our kids. A great way to do that is to tap into their rhythm and to listen to them when they are expressing things and building the architecture of their world with their nooks and crannies, constructing towers and trap doors, hidden rooms and stairs that don’t lead anywhere. If we take them seriously when they tell us things that we might not understand or see the importance of there is a very good chance they will keep talking to us when there are things we do understand and that fit into our grown up narrative.
So next time your kid is throwing a tantrum, having an argument that doesn’t make sense or is telling you all about a character in a book or show they like, if we take the time to listen, we might get to hear the next story too.
My two boys are so into the Avatar right now. If you don’t know it, I would recommend taking a look. The animated show has wonderful aesthetics and the story is both funny and in many layers. When they first told me I resisted. It’s all about kids that are heroes and their incredible powers and adventures. It’s a wonderful way for a young creative to identify. Enjoy your kids 🙂