I have been reflecting on socialization a lot this week. This past week was our last day of co-op before we start again in January. As I was supervising the Reading and Game room, Mommy and Me playgroup, and the park after co-op, my children and several others had several opportunities to interact in a more healthy way than their child-like instincts prompted. This was only possible because there were parents all around to coach them through proper peer interactions and teach them that their instincts weren’t as effective as other means.
People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.
In our reading and game room, which is for children who don’t have another structured class to be in, there was an incident where a boy carried off some Legos. My little Strawberry was a bit distraught as was another girl who they belonged to. Strawberry came up to me and told me about the incident. I told her it sounded like she wanted to disagree appropriately with the boy. This boy is 5. She agreed and went up to him. At first he didn’t want to listen to her because she is “little” and truthfully she is not much bigger than his 18 mo old sister, but my Strawberry persisted in her calm little voice to explain to him that she knew he wanted to play with the Legos but that she wanted him to bring them back. He did! A bit later, he picked up a Lego someone else was planning to use. The little girl started to whine and she was prompted her to disagree appropriately. She proceeded to disagree and the children were able to sort out their issue.
In playgroup, there were two sisters who were having a problem because it was time to clean up and one didn’t want the other to pick up the toys she had been playing with. The older one started to whine and again I prompted the disagree appropriately. She was able to disagree with her little sister and resolve the situation without tears, whining, tattling, or other negative behaviors.
At the park, this theme continued with prompting children who were whining about another child to disagree appropriately with the others. Over and over we watched as these children were able to handle their disagreements in a mature manner without resorting to whining, fussing, crying, pouting, etc.
In all of these cases, it certainly helped that the parents of these children are also using Teaching Self Government in their homes, but the skills could have been applied even if the parents were not using Teaching Self Government at home- teaching a child to understand the other person and calmly state their need is not trademarked to Nicholeen Peck. They are in fact life’s basic skills.
The biggest incident required a bit more parental involvement. So often on a playground a child will pick on another for some reason or other. Maybe the new kid comes in and doesn’t know anyone. Feeling insecure, he walks up and picks a fight with another child who is unaware that there is an issue. In our co-op we had something like this happen. Without parents immediately available to work with the children, the results could have been much different.
Tiger is one of only a handful of boys in our co-op. He and another boy have been friends for a couple of years now. A new boy, about two years younger, began to come to our detectives book club a few weeks ago. He was a little insecure and didn’t know anyone there. Two weeks ago, he punched Tiger’s friend in the face unprovoked. The parent teacher addressed the situation but now there was tension between these boys. Tiger was quite upset that his friend had been accosted and couldn’t understand why. On Friday, this same boy came up to Tiger and went to punch him. Tiger calmly blocked the punch and backed away to talk to an adult (thank you Sensei). Again the child was dealt with and the mother was spoken to about the situation. At the end of class, the boy approached Tiger’s friend cracking his knuckles and proclaimed that since he too was going to the park, he would fight him at the park. Tiger got in the car unhappy. I had a little information from the mother that the boy was struggling to know how to behave in new situations and she didn’t know what to do. I was able to have a conversation with Tiger about why this boy might be acting this way and what might be done. Tiger reflected that often the boy looked sad and perhaps he really wanted some friends but didn’t know how to go about being a friend. As we got out of the car, Tiger had a plan- he was going to talk to the boy about being friends. Everyone arrived at the park and sure enough, while Tiger and his friend were standing together, the other boy came up to them in a rather aggressive manner. Tiger was able to keep a safe distance between the boys in order to prevent violence but also he spoke assertively. For every aggressive step forward the boy took, Tiger stepped back and continued to talk. Tiger explained that he and his friend had no desire to fight. The wanted to play. They invited the boy to join them and be friends. The boy stopped advancing and put out his hand. I and the other mothers arrived close by in time to hear the boy say, “Ok, it is off.” They were now friends. They spent the next two hours running, playing, making silly videos, and having a good time. I was so proud of Tiger for being assertive and not accepting violence. He handled the situation in a mature manner that was only possible because adults were ready and willing to be nearby to coach and teach through the situation.
Homeschooling is allowing me the opportunity to properly teach my children how to behave in so many social situations. I am so grateful for that opportunity. As they fly into the world, my prayer is that they will be able to lead forth with compassion, understanding, and an ability to be assertive without being aggressive. They will know how to open doors for those with wheelchairs or strollers, provide common courtesies that are lost on so many, as well as disagree appropriately with those who seek to offend or don’t pay any attention. I am also grateful that I found Nicholeen Peck’s Teaching Self Government. It has provided me even more tools to move forward on my mission of parenting my children.
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