Natural Feelings

Saying ‘thank you’ is meaningless without the feeling of gratitude behind it … just like saying ‘I love you’ is hollow without the heart. People’s concern with the appearance of truth often seems to override their understanding of it: that life is not what you see or hear, but rather what you know and what you feel. It’s not what is on the outside that matters so much … it’s what we find within. The idea is that some social behaviors are appropriate while others are not – true enough, but remember that the behavior is simply a symptom of one’s current understanding. Therefore, to genuinely learn or to change a given behavior, it’s not the behavior that you should be reacting to at all … it’s the understanding. And, particularly when dealing with children, that understanding is not to be found so much in the mental articulation of a concept, but rather in their basic emotional comprehension.

I have commonly observed that children can be marvelous teachers, because it is easy to see how they so often reflect those around them. They make us question ourselves almost as much as they question everything else because, ironically, the young mind has not yet ‘learned’ how to pretend quite so skillfully as we … they haven’t yet had the social pressure to act in a manner contrary to how they might honestly feel. If they feel anger in public, they scream and yell and stomp their feet in a fit of emotional expression – they don’t realize how embarrassed this might make you, or that their anger really isn’t appropriate or fitting to the situation, they’re just mad! As adults, we know that anger sometimes needs to be expressed, but you can’t let it get the better of you! Punching that schnook in the schnozzle might be what you feel like doing, but it probably wouldn’t be the best course of action (then again, maybe you better think about how appropriate your feelings are too!). But now ask yourself: why do you restrain, and how can you teach a child to do so also? Is it fear of the police or getting your own schnozzle flattened (fear of a spanking or some form of punishment) … or maybe you know what it feels like to get hurt, and you are loving enough not to want anyone else to have to feel that? Hmmmm …

Communication, whether it’s with children or people in general, is about making a connection. To truly teach that child you have to connect with them, otherwise it isn’t genuine learning, it’s just programmed responses that you’ll be getting. If you tell a child ‘no’, is it the word that they will be comprehending or the emotion behind it? Are you just yelling it out with anger, or are you saying it with real concern for their well-being? What lesson, what energy are you really giving to them? If you’re constantly telling them to ‘say thank you’ simply as a matter of social etiquette but without the emotion of gratitude behind it, are you really teaching them what gratitude truly is? How do you react when the child gives you something? I think these are all questions that might deserve some contemplation.

If a child attempts something potentially dangerous, for they lack the wisdom of experience, don’t be angry with them, rather show them your care … express it in the tone of your voice and in your actions, which is out of love and not control. If a child breaks something or damages something, express your sense of loss (be honest!) but remember that whatever the loss it’s not so important as the child is … sure you’re upset, but accidents happen and we try our best not to make them again. Help your child to feel the appropriate reactions and behavior, by first feeling and reacting to things appropriately yourself. If one learns to feel what is appropriate, then the outward expression will naturally follow.

Okay I know … it’s a big subject with a lot of different opinions. Inevitably this short article is an over-simplification on being a parent/teacher and dealing with over-tired tots, but once again I think it is something worthy of consideration. Humanity has been around now for quite a long while, and yet so many of the basics of what humanity means are still somehow elusive to so many … maybe a bit more thought and feeling on how we learn about humanity as children might be prudent? Just a thought …

Anyways, best wishes and good journey to you all! Feel free to share your own bit of wisdom and ask some questions … we’re all in this together you know!