You matter as much as your child
When I had my children all those years ago I thought parenting should come naturally. You guessed...it didn't and it doesn't. Parenting is a special job for all of us. If you have more than one child you will already know that each child is different and each has different needs.
The one thing I wanted was to have a healthy lasting relationship with each of my four children. I thought that if I respected each of my children, they in turn would respect me and others. As they grew up this would help them get a job and develop good relationships with others. After all everyone wants to be respected for who they are.
How to connect with your child
I realised that I needed a set of skills that I could try. In the 1980s there wasn't a lot of local training courses or books written about parenting. I was trained as a teacher and worked in the community as a children's drama tutor, so I started there. Surprisingly I found parenting to be very different to teaching.
By working with and observing lots and lots of children of ages between 5 and 18 years, it became apparent that children really did like to be respected for who they were. I also noticed that kind and generous relationships were developed between children when they respected each other. By using the skills I learnt from my experiences with children, group projects became pleasant and exciting. Each child was respected for their ideas and stories they had to tell. Many parents reported new found confidence in their child's behaviour during community projects in which these skills were encouraged.
Tips I learnt from children
Respect and confident communication was encouraged between us all when we were practising these skills:
Listening to each other with this message:
'I'm here', 'I hear you', 'I care', 'I understand'.
Not................'I always agree'; 'I must make you happy'; 'I will solve your problems'.
We listened with our eyes and our ears.
Reflecting back what I heard and saw in children's faces (noticing how a child was feeling): eg. 'You're sad that you couldn't remember your story'.
Why did this encourage respect and foster communication between us?
Because we all felt:
Worthwhile..............for who we were.
Of course every relationship needs healthy boundaries. So boundaries which protected everyone were developed. But these boundaries were progressive as each child was encouraged to learn how to be self directive and self responsible.
Bobbi Cruice is a professional therapist who practises Child Centered Play Therapy. Her approach is based on mutual trust and respect between therapist and child. Bobbi is the mother of four grown children and grandmother of three. She has a passion for photography and nature and loves to spend her free time in her garden.