As you can tell, I’ve been thinking a lot about acknowledgment. This is something that I struggle with, especially in the moments when a child gets upset about something I believe is silly. Thanks to great books, Magda Gerber’s work, and the wonderful people around me I have been able to work on acknowledging child’s feelings more often.
I’ve just started reading Janet Lansbury’s book, Elevating child care: a guide to respectful parenting. I’m only a few chapters in but I highly recommend that you read it, or at least follow her blog! Everything I read from her has helped me to rethink some aspect of my practice.
After I wrote my last post, I was really thinking about how I might be missing out on opportunities to form connections with children. When we miss an opportunity to make a connection with a child, we have also missed a chance to acknowledge them. Janet Lansbury states “the secret to connecting is to meet children where they are. Listen patiently and acknowledge. We can never go wrong or overboard when we acknowledge” (16). It sounds so easy but it can be really challenging. The trick is to catch yourself before you respond to a child. In Magda Gerber’s words you have to “respect, reflect, respond.”
So when a child gets upset about something and we are going to respond to them, we have to catch ourselves and take a breath. This will give us time to respect (and accept) the child’s feelings, reflect on how we are going to meet the child where they are and then respond with acknowledgement. Just to clarify “acknowledgement isn’t agreeing with or condoning our child’s actions; it’s validating the feeling behind them” (Lansbury, 21) But how do we catch ourselves before we just blurt something out? WE SLOW DOWN!
This is so hard to do but it is so worth it! After reading Janet’s book I caught myself before responding to child way more than I ever have. I allowed myself more time to process my responses instead of just saying whatever came to mind. I believe this is because I’m more aware of the importance of acknowledging a child’s feelings, regardless of what is it, and because I slowed down. I allowed myself time to respect, reflect and respond. So my big question is…what else are we missing out on when we rush?
Lansbury, Janet. Elevating child care: a guide to respectful parenting. : JLML Press, 2014. Print.