We all understand when something frightens, startles or goes against ego, a child with or without language skills may respond by crying. Isn’t this a natural plea for help, a signal to alert to those around the child to nurture, protect and explain?
Through the various stages of a child’s development there are so many do’s and don’ts, how an adult approaches and explains this minefield is tantamount to how a child is going to react and develop.
The instinct to cry prompts a reaction that the child observes and absorbs. That reaction is what teaches the child’s response to any given situation. So, it makes sense, that it would be helpful to be mindful of how one responds to crying, and send the message you want the child to receive, absorb and respond to.
It takes time to comfort, reassure and explain to a child, usually over and over again! If a two year old could he/she would probably ask “tell me again please, I have forgotten”. It takes time, literally, to develop security and independence. Is crying as a reaction (instinctive) or a tool (learned behaviour) a child’s way of demanding that time?
Empathy goes a long way, what sticks in my mind is a father bemused by the fact that his son is crying because he put butter on his son’s rice after his son asked for it, that prompted an outburst..why?
This is where I think Montessori has got it absolutely right, Independence. Had the father invited his son to put his own butter on the rice there may not have been any crying at all.
Montessori’s strong belief in the Freedom of Choice is also a skill for any parent and child and can defuse many situations. A child brought up on the belief that they have a say and that it is respected, I believe, is unlikely to have crying fits or tantrums.
Is today’s culture too fast ? ”why are people are always in a rush?” was a question my son asked the other day. Indeed, why?