Imagine a child pushing another child, stealing a toy to play with it. What would you do?
A lot of adults respond to this situation with anger. They scold the child, grab the toy and hand it back to the other child. Now, think about that for a while. The child grabs the toy forcefully from somebody else. The adult grabs the toy forcefully from somebody else. What does the child learn? Strong individuals grab items from others, that’s how the world works.
Children don’t do as we say, they do as we do. They also don’t do as they’re told because they would rather find the solution on their own, using their own brain power. I want to help parents (and other adults) raise their children using non-violent communication (including body language, tone of voice, etc), by modelling the desired behavior.
An adult seeing the above situation might have responded calmly in many different ways, while still respecting everyone involved. He might have noticed both childrens’ desire to play with the same toy and brought out a second similar toy. Then he might have offered this new toy to either of the children and tried to solve the conflict by making sure everyone had a say in the solution. While solving the conflict he would mention that grabbing things tend to make others unhappy, that others feel better if we ask first.
I know it sounds like a fairytale at first. I was also sceptical when I first heard of this approach. But the amazing thing is that children are incredibly capable human beings. When treated with respect and explanations rather than bullying and scolding, they show remarkable mediating skills. What adults call misbehavior is often a lack of information, a lack of knowledge on the child’s part, or sometimes even a copied behavior that the child has observed from other people.
I’m going to figure out how to spread this approach to mainstream parenting. I’m going to talk to a lot of strangers to find out how they feel when they first hear of such parenting and find out why they are so afraid of it. I’m also going to find out what qualities mainstream parents most value with their children to see how this approach might help them reach their long-term goals. I want to save thousands, perhaps millions of children from such child abuse as I described at the beginning of this post. You might not see it as abuse, and that’s where I want to start. I want adults to realize that it is abuse to scold children and wantonly grab items from their hands.
I want to see a world where children are treated as capable human beings.