Saturday, 19 July 2014

words words words

I think I'm getting tired of them.
I think digger might be as well.

As my husband Pierre points out I wasn't born with the editing gene. Neither were large parts of my family. I marvel at his ability to sum up any situation or episode - swiftly, succinctly and with integrity

Fewer words is what I aim for. 
For clarity. For integrity. For honesty. 

When do I use to many words?
Well ... Often. Here are a few situations where I am trying to cut down:

When he is sad. Or hurting. Then he just need comforting. 

When he is playing. Especially when he is in his flow zone.  Then he just need to be left to his own devises and good company. Except if course when sports casting. 

When we need to ... leave the house/playground, eat, drink, get dressed and so on. Actually ... I ask myself how often we ever need to do something?  

When he find something that is totally absorbing. Like noticing a spider in a hedge. Or spotting a blue truck. Or a crane, crane, Crane!! CRANE!!!

When he is eating - at dinner for instance. He knows when he doesn't like something or when he is full or wants more. 

There can be a lot acknowledgement in silence. Just catching his eye. Or touching him gently. In smiling. 

Let's take one of these situations and dissect it: Digger needs comforting. Digger doesn't need words or even explanations. When he is sad or hurting, he just needs comforting. Full stop. And the acknowledgement of his world and feelings that it will carry. Chances are he doesnt know why he fell of that log. Or why he bashed himself on the head. Or spilled all the milk all over himself. So there is no point in asking for an explanation. He won't be listening anyway. He's little body is no full of feelings - surprise, sadness, hurt, anger, frustration to name but a few regulars. His ears are as tightly shut as his eyes. Only his mouth is open to let out the sobs and cries. 

So now I find it best - and most efficient - just to comfort. I put my arms around him - if he will let me. And hold him. Sometimes I rock him. He likes me to stand up so he is really held tightly - suspended really. 

'Oh dear, little love.  That looked liked it really hurt.'  Repeated or a variation of this, if necessary. It is the tone of voice that carries the most weight of the sounds anyway. It is a verbal hug. The sound of soothing.  

In any of these situations there's a not so thin line between explaining and lecturing. Wrote the daughter of two teachers. I should know. 

Words can crowd and cloud the space between us.  Curiously I write this as Digger's language is coming on apace. This week i estimate 80%ish of his blubber being words. Last week it was 70%ish. When he gets it wrong, I try not to correct him too much. But to repeat. Or ask if him what he meant. For instance 'digger wan aish' he might proclaim and I can ask 'does Digger want an ice cream?' Or 'does Digger want that ice cube?' Always followed by a long pause. I'm practising pauses. If I can master them, I hope to raise a son who is better at listening that my family is. Me included. 

So many messages are lost in words. 

For the sake of clarity, I'll try to sum this blog up like this: 
In parenting fewer words will probably do. Not least in the preverbal world of a toddler. So choose them well I tell myself.

 I'm trying I'm trying!   

Friday, 4 July 2014

Sport Casting Digger World

Digger loves me sport casting of his every move. He cannot get enough. He would have me do it all… day… long… if he could. ‘Peak, peak’ he chimes, pointing to my mouth. (S–sounds are very hit or miss at the moment.)

There are many words for sports casting: 'Peak, peak', verbalising stream of conscientiousness, broad casting, sports commentating, say what you see, voice over and hero sound tracking to name but a few. They are all of course subtly different. At our house we’ve settled on the term sport casting. My husband is getting into it too.

The present World Cup of course is really good for brushing off this particular skill.

It is simple – just say what you see your child doing.

‘Digger’s holding the bulldozer in his right hand. He moves the bulldozer in. In towards the giiiiaant heap of Duplo blocks. He pushes the nose into the pile. And clears a small path. Oouhh… this is tough terrain. And he get’s stuck!! He cannot move the blocks. Oouhhooo… But wait…. he pulls back. He’s free! He backs out.... He backs out a bit further… he hesitates… And now! At full speed! He rams the bull dozer into the pile again.’  You get the gist…

This is not the same as acknowledging their feelings, as in ‘Oh dear, I think you just got a nasty shock there. Is that how it felt to you?’ Nor is it solving conflict (see links below). This is primarily about seeing one child, and to verbalise what you see. And children love that. All the children in our family love it, and cannot get enough. It is a wonderfully effective way of opening your (my) own eyes to all the minutiae of your child's Toddler Kingdom.

But there are many pit falls in sport casting. I definitely had to practice before I got half way decent at it. And I still run out of steam. And end up saying the same few things over and over again.

Most practitioners agree that you should stay away from steering the child’s actions. That includes staying away from saying stuff that may change how your child is playing. Such as ‘are you sure that is a good idea to put the red block on the green block? Here… take another green block. It’ll look nicer’ or ‘Darling, you just need to turn the block over. Then they will fit together.’ or worse still ‘Do you want me to do that for you?’ My sports casting versions of these would be along the lines of ‘He picks up a red block. He puts it on the green block.’ Or..

“He appears to be a trouble…. The blocks don’t seem to fit together… This looks very frustrating for our young hero… he is now audibly frustrated…’ etc (Yes both Pierre and I can end up using less-than-toddler-friendly language – we get desperate, in our fumble for new words and ways of expressing it all.) If I step back and leave him to it, he usually solves the problem himself, if he doesn't give up and move on to something else.

So…absolutely no questions allowed, no interjecting (unless to keep your child safe) and no directing.

Just sit back, observe and speak. It’s a bit like jazz riffs and improvisations. Just go with the flow...

I channel my inner sports commentator. I get into the grove of it and enjoy it. It is fun! And can get very absorbing for us both.

I try to be enthusiastic, engaged and non-judgemental – just like sport commentators. They have to remain fair to each of the competitors, all the while they are completely riveted by the game.

Staying non-judgemental though is nearly impossible. Just try to think of a sentence that doesn’t convey how you feel about it. Even about the weather. ‘The sun is shining.’ See? Impossible.

There are times when I suggest sport casting to Digger. Like when we need to get a move on – e.g. getting home from the park in time for dinner (ie when mummy has lost track of time). Sport casting Digger when he is scooting has been a revelation. He motors off in great style, often so far ahead that he cannot hear my comments. And yes, people may look at me funnily when I continue commenting – I have come not to care about this. Mostly though, they laugh along with me...

Oh, the things we do for our children…

Here’s a few link of some posts with more info on sport casting, mainly from the Janet Lansbury school of thoughts, its origins with Magda Gerber acknowledged. There are others I like but I have not found English web links to these. Lansbury’s way and focus is different to what I describe above, although her sport casting is amazingly effective in resolving certain conflicts as described below: