I received a really lovely message the other day from someone who mentioned that they enjoyed my writing and felt in line with my philosophies for the most part, but while they are trying to be more free and easy with their child, here I am instituting rules about running in the house!
For the record, the message was *so* sweet, and very appreciated, but I found it interesting that when I mentioned in a post a while ago that I am trying to keep running to a minimum in our tiny house, that this was interpreted as “rules” about running in the house. Not so!
I think there tends to be a split between parenting philosophies that discuss “boundaries” and “discipline” vs. schools of thought that run along “attachment” lines–which are often described as being more “child-led”.
I consider myself to be very much an “attachment” parent, and it is very important to me to respect my kids and to recognize that their behaviours and actions are always coming from a place of authenticity. I want to make it clear, that I actually don’t have any “rules” in our house. What good would that do? I could state clearly to everybody that there is a “no running” rule…but what would happen when they run? What next? Not only do I have issues with the logic behind time-outs, but I am really too lazy to implement them. Also, if I follow the trajectory of emotion behind the time out to its logical conclusion, I am concerned that I would find myself face-to-face with a teenager as angry and contrary as I was, (to be clear, my mother wasn’t into time-outs either, but there were significant issues in my family during my childhood, which I think led to my carrying quite a bit of rage). In other words, I don’t think that time-outs, or that segregating a child from the family group leads to more love, more acceptance, more understanding. And these are really the only way to work through stuff. You know. Stuff.
So how do I get the kids to stop running in the house? First of all, when I’m faced with this kind of issue, I have to ask myself: is it really necessary that the kids stop running in the house? For me, to be honest, it is. Our home is tiny. Door slam. The pottery rattles. Treva gets run over. Tears ensue. I think for some people, the conditions might be different, and running in the house…why not? For us, it doesn’t work so well.
So then the question becomes, how can I, the leader, ensure that everyone gets their needs met? Because the kids clearly need to run, and I clearly need some peace & quiet. And the answer, for me, is easy. Instead of yelling at the kids to stop running, which they can’t and won’t be doing, I go up to Horus (the ringleader), I crouch down, hold his hand, and say. “Wow. You are so fast. I want to see you run right down the driveway. Could you show me your fastest sprint?” And while I’m talking, I’m putting on his coat, and gearing him up, and then he’s out the door and he’s off! Happy, because he is loved and seen and heard and witnessed.
This way of dealing with a potential issue might seem like semantics: what’s the difference? I’m still essentially saying No Running in the House! But it’s actually the opposite: I am saying to Horus, Yes. Yes to the running, Yes to your energy, Yes to who you are.
For me, *everything* shifts when I remind myself of the importance of making my children right. And this can be done even in the hairiest of circumstances, or even when faced with aggression and conflict. There is always something right in a child’s behaviour, and I do believe that there is always a valid reason for why a child behaves the way she or he does.
Am I always able to respond to my kids this way, with love, positivity and openness? Oh no. No. Not always. But the more I am able to stay aware of my body, and my emotions, and of how my responses affect the trajectory of our family, the more I am able to stay clear on what kind of parent and person I want to be. It’s a constant learning process, that requires constant forgiveness, especially towards myself.