Thursday, February 08, 2007

On Behavior

I've been rolling this around in my head for a few days.
I'm considering the consequences of misbehavior.
I don't mean false consequences, as in punishment, but the true consequences.
When Trev and Maddie have an altercation, or when I see Trev revving up with his hands at her neck and himself shaking and growling (I've seen something like this once or twice), I could assume that he is ch0king the life from his sister. But he never is. Though he looks like a hyena with teeth bared, really he's being very careful and quite gentle, and in complete control of himself.
When I race into the room because she's fussing or crying (almost always it's a temperamental cry, not an "I'm hurt" cry) I often react first, sometimes accusing in my head, "what did you do to her?" sort of thinking before I even find out what's going on. Never have I found my son to just be acting out of malice. She's bugging him (I can understand this, people bug me too sometimes), or taking stuff from him, or trying to get him to play when he doesn't want to, etc. Every time I find out the reason for the upset, there is always a valid reason.
So the first key is to always find out Why? before making assumptions, however silent they may be.
The second part of this is my physical actions when such an event occurs. When I assume she is hurt (which she hardly ever actually is, usually she's just angry that he's demonstrated that he's stronger and bigger) and I go in and "Oh, poor Maddie, are you alright? Look, Trev, she's hurt," in an attempt to manipulate him into feeling remorse or regret, it reeks of subterfuge, and is certainly ineffectual parenting. My thinking in this was to soothe the hurt child first, and to exemplify empathy for others, but it doesn't feel right, and I think the one that might need the empathy is not the one that I first suppose.
What I need to do it get it together even more quickly, first assess if she's truly hurt, and if not, I need to go directly to Trev and comfort his needs, make sure that he's not feeling powerless and like he doesn't matter.
I'm learning that misbehavior, even seemingly harmful, is just self expression. There is a need there that is simply not being met.
I'm not discounting Maddie's feelings, but tots are absolute experts on getting their needs met, and I truly have no fear that she will be left feeling not cared for. The child has no concept (hardly ever) what it means to feel unimportant. She may feel impotent from time to time due to her size and other physical limitations, but her emotional needs are almost always immediately met. Babies reign supreme in this category.
And I can't think of even once when Trev has truly hurt her, they adore each other tremendously. If he does hurt her, it's on accident, and he is immediately consoling her and loving her. So I'm not too worried about her. Besides that, if you've met the child, you know that she is not one to suffer in silence.
So I'll be working on this particular area for the next while.

Another huge one for me is going to be what binds all unschoolers, and all faithful people everywhere.... trust. It's so easy to trust, and have comfort in this way of life when Trev is discussing bacteria and asteroids and the life cycle of the frog, and so hard when he's watching Pokemon and My Gym Parter is a Monkey.
I don't know why. I think that will be one of the benefits of this blog, though... I'll be able to go back in a year or two from now when I'm having trouble with a particular process, and think.... "Oh yeah, I was all worked up back then about xxx, but had I known that he was really doing was xxx (resting, growing his body instead, internalizing the info, getting ready for a huge spell of learning, collecting info on ___, etc) then I never would have had a moment's doubt", and maybe that knowing, that hindsight will aid me in the future.
Experience, don't you know.

Today in Naomi's lecture, she said "So the question becomes, knowing all of this, what do we do? What do we do as parents to provide that very little person with the utmost supportive opportunities to fulfill their need for growth and to gain experience -life experience- as themselves?" (not the lessons 'the adult' feels are neccesary.)
I'll certainly be listening to this next bit with open ears.

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