Please don’t tease (the children)

We spend a lot of time around adults whose main attempt to connect with my kids is by teasing them.  My kids don’t like teasing. They are very good at standing up for themselves, and stating they want the teasing to stop.  They’re routinely ignored, which is a separate issue, I suppose.

When my kids pleas are ignored, they often lash out.  They hit the person who thinks holding them is funny, or they melt down over the person laughing at their expense.  And these are the same people who then focus on the child’s behavior as being incorrect.  When the behavior is a direct response to the adult’s actions. (No, I don’t think it’s okay for my kids to hit.  But I do realize why they are doing so in this instance.)

I think many people learn teasing by being teased by adults as kids, and think that’s just what you do.  They see it as good-natured fun.  I was raised with lots of teasing.   But hearing it now just makes me cringe, and truly feel for the kids at whom it is aimed.

So what instead?

I know it doesn’t have to be this way.  Adults pop up randomly that right away know how to connect with kids. They do it through play, or through taking an interest in talking to my children, or in being willing to do what my kids ask them, like joining in on an activity.

So what makes the difference?  I don’t really know.  I never liked teasing.  My highly sensitive nature doesn’t jive with teasing.  So I don’t choose to tease kids.  I also have kids who hate it, so that is a reminder as well.  But what is it about those special people that connect with them?  Do they just still like to play themselves, so they find it easier to move into play?  Maybe.  Do they just like kids?  Maybe.  Whatever the reason, I really should tell each of these people just how much I appreciate what they do, and just how much my children really like them.

Because kids like being liked, just like the rest of us.  And they know you like them when you attempt to connect in a way that reaches them. An attempt to connect in a way that works for you and not the child in your life is not really an attempt to connect.  It’s just a lesson to the child that you don’t really like them well enough to learn what they do and don’t like.


Great events for children that parents ruin Why don't we trust kids?

We went to a wonderful children’s event recently.  It was a jazz concert in a topiary park, surrounded by topiary statues, a pond with ducks, walking paths, and wildflowers. It was adjacent to the downtown library, and representatives from the art museum had a project set up after the music.

The art project was set up well.  The table was spread with choices, including foil sheets, tissue paper in many colors, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, puffy balls, magic nuudles, glue, markers, and colored tape.  Kids could choose anything they wanted and the only direction given was that they were making “plants from another planet.”  I’m sure that there was some reason for that theme, but they didn’t explain further.  And my kids got to work.

Until…

My kids got to work until a mother and her preschool aged child sat down with us.  She said to her daughter, “you’re supposed to make a flower from another planet.”  And she went on to tell her daughter each step to take to make a tissue paper flower.  She made every decision.  At one point, she said, “this flower looks really sad.  Let’s make it look better.”  And she added another layer to the flower while her daughter watched.

Other kids starting following suit.  One girl, obviously distressed, turned to her grownup and said, “it’s supposed to be a flower!”  My kids hesitated, but I reiterated that they could make whatever they wanted and they kept creating.

children's process art
My children’s finished artwork

Why even go?

Why do we take over for our kids, even in these situations that are specifically designed for children?  Why can’t we trust them and let them create?  Obviously, it’s not understanding process vs product art, but it’s so much more than that.  Why can most adults not let kids have even the smallest amount of control over their own lives?

Creating art has so many benefits.   Creating allows children to explore their creativity and is a wonderful sensory activity.  It develops fine motor skills, creativity and confidence.  I love this quote shared by the Artful Parent.

“Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.”  –Sydney Gurewitz  Clemens

That is, if parents let it.  The parent in this story missed out on enjoying her child create something unique and wonderful, and the child missed out on the opportunity to make decisions and be in control of herself and her project.  How do we expect our children to gain these skills if we never let them practice?

 


Surrendering to Delight Driven Learning Homeschooling rabbit holes and the places they take us

I’ve just finished watching Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” with my 7-year old.  It continues a rabbit hole we’ve gone down since we started homeschooling this year.

We pulled my son from school mid-year, and have mostly spent our time deschooling.  He’s always learning, and we’ve followed his lead on topics of interest just like we have always done.  His cousin introduced him to the song Thriller a year ago, which he loved, but his interest faded.  Then a couple months ago he saw a children’s movie preview that included the song, “Bad,” by Michael Jackson.  And we were off.

What we’ve done

We’ve listened to so much music.  He’s watched videos and has spent hours practicing dance moves.  We have read biographies. We’ve studied the map to see where Michael was born and where he’s lived throughout his life.  He’s drawn portraits of Michael.  Most recently, he directed his sister and cousin in recreating several music videos that he recorded, and he’s been working on designing himself a costume.

Michael Jackson portrait, homeschooling rabbit hole
Michael Jackson, portrait in colored pencils, artist, age 7

Some activities he has spent time doing on his own, and some we have done together at his request.  That’s the beauty of not being at school.  He can involve us, and we’re all enjoying his learning.

Delight driven learning

I know it may seem like a strange subject to a lot of people.  But it has involved so much learning.  It has encompassed music, art, reading, movement and dance, story telling, and so much more.  He’s seen how music is made, what goes into music and concert production. We’ve checked out the map to see all the places around the world Michael Jackson has lived.  And it’s also allowed us to discuss some difficult topics such as death, drugs, abuse, publicity, and fame (all in developmentally appropriate ways, of course).

My son loved this biography of Michael Jackson.  We’ve started reading some of the other books in this series, and we’re both really enjoying them as well.  (Affiliate link)