Though this blog is typically about activities and the Montessori, I woke early this morning and out of nowhere began writing post in my head. These are my opinions, and as an imperfect parent, I'm not here to judge. I did however wish to share my reflections, what I've learned, and what I believe.
We are all afraid of something. Many of us have had the same fears for years or our entire lives without abatement because fears and phobias are difficult if not impossible to shake without intensive therapy. For me, all of the logic in the world won't make me afraid of falling out of an enclosed ferris wheel car and plummeting to my death, especially when it's stuck at the top. Someone without arachnophobia can tell me that the enormous wolf spider that was just killed next to my bed is gone so there's no reason to be afraid to sleep, but my brain can't help what it thinks or my body how it reacts. The person not afraid of spiders can "not get it" all they want, it's still my reality. So for Tyler, even if I don't understand the fear or it make absolutely no sense, I respect it. I give him the word "scared" or "afraid" to help him label his emotions. I remove the offending animal, letting him watch me stuff the frightening beast high in a closet corner. We tell it "bye bye", over and over until he seems satisfied. Now that he's older I let him show me where the animal should go and reassure him that the animal will stay there until he says it's okay for it to come out. After this little ceremony, all is well, and we move on with our day. When he's older and has more words, I will be free to listen and let him express his emotions and fears in whatever way he is experiencing them. Though I may take a brief moment to educate if needed, I will refrain from judging, no matter how "silly" it may all seem to me. I will look for ways to comfort and console without disregarding what his brain tells him is real.
Having others who will respect and validate feelings, pain and experiences is something we all want in life. Our children's needs and desires are no different just because they are small. If we raise our children in this mindful manner, perhaps they will be the one to hug and console a friend petrified by a garden snake spotted while playing kickball rather than the one calling the phobic child names and chasing them around the field with the snake danging from their hands. In a society that's a bit too full of bullies and selfish behaviors, we can at least try to mold children who will model compassion and understanding for others. It has to start somewhere right?