Practising the art of being imperfect

Our little guy is six years old – six and a half to be precise. He is in grade one and spinning all around his head day and night are numbers and letters and stories. He is drawing prolifically, wanting to write the stories and also dramatizing the most wonderful adventures in his play. It really is a magic world he is living in and I love watching the endless possibilities unfold.

The flip side to this (there is always a flip-side!) is that when he gets a little tired (as a busy six-year old eventually does), or when the reality of family life can’t be put off any further, the magic bubble bursts in a big way! We try to give him as much time and space possible to live in this wonderland he is naturally drawn to … but unfortunately teeth must be brushed and the playroom must be tidied up and dinner must be eaten … much as even I still try to prolong the experience for myself, one can’t play ALL the time!!

The outbursts we’ve been receiving  have ranged from general annoyance, pouting, rudeness and complaining to typical tantrums and way off-the-scale and very unpredictable total melt-downs. It was becoming a little too frequent for our liking and it came to the point where we really had to give some attention to our beliefs about respect and how we demonstrate this to each other in our family. Getting angry and shouting, constant time outs and threats just don’t work as long-term solutions – and they also don’t demonstrate the very respect that we are asking from him. It comes back to the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.

As a parent it’s hard to overcome the initial negative emotional responses in the midst of a tantrum. There is enormous energy required to keep it together when your child is falling to pieces, and the well of patience and creativity is not an everlasting one. Pulling oneself back from the brink of anger or frustration is a real skill, one that we have to learn and practice again and again as new challenges present themselves to us in our lives. If we haven’t yet got it right as adults, how can we expect our children to always know what to do?

The thing is, I don’t think we are MEANT to get it right. We are supposed to always be learning on this life journey.

This a skill we can teach our children by practicing it ourselves, and I mean the word ‘practising’ literally. We can’t be perfect. We can forgive ourselves for our mistakes, recognise what we could change and try again next time. Just like our kids.

I wanted to share with you the process we’ve been moving through – but all those thoughts came out first, so I guess they were important to share too. I wrote, ages ago, the first part in a series of articles about using the notion of the “Three-fold” in understanding and working with children’s behaviour – I always meant to post more on the subject – and indeed I have written more on it  … but this beautifully challenging situation with our little guy’s behaviour arose and presented me with the opportunity of practicing what I preach … so writing was stalled while we’ve been re-visioning our understanding of what is happening for him.

I had hoped to share it with you sooner … but as I am now consciously practicing the art of being imperfect, and the art of improving and learning … I can’t tell you when it will be shared! Life with three children (and in a shared house with a collective six children) has given me reason to re-think my parenting and use of time!

In the meantime – our wonderful, impulsive, creative, heroic and imperfect son is in a happy place – and as proud of his achievements in being proactive as we are of ours 🙂

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