Sunday 12th December
Written by Kirsten Carangi, parent of Aries in Oak Tree Kindergarten and River in the Parent-Toddler Program.
I think I gave myself the best holiday present of the season when I arranged for a babysitter while my husband was out of town and attended Kim John Payne’s lecture last week. I loved his last two lectures at the school and I knew I didn’t want to miss his thoughtful and important observations and approaches to child rearing. I am now reading his book, Simplicity Parenting, and have attended some of the Parent Study morning sessions here at school. But hearing Mr. Payne speak passionately about how simplicity works for children and its long-term positive effects reaffirmed its importance for me. I took away some “golden nuggets”, statements and concepts that I have heard and read about many times, but I guess I need to hear over and over again to really soak up and fully implement in our family life. I didn’t plan to take notes, but I found myself getting out a pen and writing down a small list that I just didn’t want to forget beyond that night! Here is a list of my ‘golden nuggets’:
♦ “A child should never interrupt an adult conversation”. I completely agree but, admittedly, I find ways to let the whining seep through my conversations! It was great to be reminded that children must learn to wait.
♦ “Kids who get picked on are reactive; we need to help children ‘quiet down’ their reactions.” This was a new concept to me, as my children are younger and I hadn’t even starting to think about teasing, bullying and children getting picked on. To learn that by bringing simplicity to our lives (calm mealtimes, less hectic schedules, less unimportant adult conversation, less media and less stuff!) will help our children be less emotionally reactive is an awesome concept that makes so much sense to me. I just hadn’t thought about it that way.
♦ “We can’t deny our children conflict; that is how they know who they are”. This is the hard part. Already, when I see my older son upset about something, watch him process it, and literally see the emotions come across his face, I know that I need to let it happen. The more predictability and rhythm my husband and I introduce into his life, the more it will help him deal with his emotions. I can attest that this works. The more we calm down our family life, the easier it seems for my son to conquer stressful situations.
The final golden nugget for me was to hear Mr. Payne talk about “pulling it all back” in his family life this past summer to prepare his younger daughter for first grade. Our son, Aries, will be attending first grade next year and I have heard that this is quite a transition period. It was a wonderful reminder, and good preparation for me, to realize how important it will be to calm down our lives this summer especially so that Aries can prepare his inner self for the excitement and beginning of the grades. Anyone who knows me knows that l love to get rid of the stuff! Together, my husband I make sure we have calm, ‘nothing’ days for our children amongst the hectic schedules that we live. We try to not plan so much in their earshot, but I fully admit that I often slip back into my adult ways of busyness. To be reminded to pull back at such a busy time of year was especially important for me, as I pull back the gifts and the plans and take more time to be still with my children. I hope Mr. Payne will be able to return for another lecture in the future, but until then I will continue to read his book, and remind myself how much ‘less’ really and truly works.
This article first appeared in The Weekly. To read the latest edition visit the school website and click Weekly Newsletter.