Watching the Watcher

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Raising James

When raising a young child, there’s a base level of supervision that must be met i.e. make sure the child has adequate nutrition, proper attire, treats others appropriately, and doesn’t hurt himself too badly. And once those conditions are met, it’s important to let him express his own personality.

As people, we don’t know what the future holds, the child will readily adapt to his surroundings — therefore it is not our place as parents to force him into a mold of our choosing. We can watch for the direction he heads, and help him along his path.

In order to express himself, the parents must facilitate a kind and cheerful atmosphere. If he’s concerned about constant judgement or admonishment, then he can’t relax and be himself. Oftentimes, the parents must closely monitor and correct their own behavior more so than the child’s.

While watching a young child, we must be aware of our levels of attentiveness and frustration. Any display of frustration must be acknowledged and a strategy must be developed to minimize its future appearance. As for attentiveness, we must monitor our level of boredom and find something interesting about the activity we’re engaged in.

It’s not enough to tell a child what to do, we must engage wholeheartedly in the experience — we are a model he will emulate, not a boss barking orders. We must always be at our best — and if our best isn’t good enough, at least we can remain regret-free, knowing we did everything we could.

When dealing with a child, always assume you have an audience — imagine the feeling of a watcher’s eyes peering at the back of your neck. Think of that child not as a possession forced to be under your rule, but as an honored guest, an independent person due the dignity of any other — seek to earn his respect.

Not merely an accessory to the parents’ lives, nor their sole focus, but a unified team whose goal is the well-being of the family. As individuals, we’re picked apart by life’s stressors, so listen and respond to each other with a pleasant tone, an open mind, and a loving heart.

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