In today’s time, we have some really incredible children (rather humanitarian) advocates whose work is well known and their voices have reached millions of families around the world. Some of my favorites are Dr. Montessori, Janet Lansbury, Magda Gerber, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Alfie Kohn….
Past 3 months, has been an incredible journey for us as a family. Hubby and I agree and have observed below:
- How sensitive babies really are!
- How they can gauge if we truly see them as worthy individuals or not.
- How they can pick up the energy levels of people, what they say etc even if they dont understand our words.
- How much more settled, content and engaged they are when respected vs when not.
But well ‘respecting a baby’ can be quite a hazy thing. In the format of do’s and don’t’s, here is what respect means to us regarding our daughter…..
- We inform our daughter what is going to happen next on a continuous basis, e.g.: now I am going to pick you up…
- We give her space. Which means if she is concentrating or is engaged in her environment or her toys, we do not interrupt.
- We observe her to understand through her body language, nuances, expressions and cooes.
- We model grace and courtesy. Babies are sponges, who absorb every little thing they see.
- We talk to her and everyone else in soft kind voices.
- We listen to her and let her know she matters.
- We give her routines with slight changes every now and then, so she knows what to expect, trust this new world and feels safe.
- We talk to her directly and not as a third person.
- We acknowledge her feelings. So instead of saying, “its ok”, we say ‘I hear you are upset, lets…..’
- We follow her lead and leave our prerogatives behind as much as we can.
- We do say sorry, please and thank you to her.
- We do not put her in any unnatural physical position. That means, we don’t sit her/ walk her if she cant do this independently.
- We do not fling her in the air or shake her.
- We do not tickle her, babies can’t tell you to stop if they dont like it. Plus their nervous system is not strong enough for all the stimulation!
- We do not put her upside down, same reason as above.
- We do not pick her up from behind. We come in front and let her know what is going to happen first.
- We do not scream, bully or belittle anyone, just because we are in the ‘power’ to do so. We make a conscious effort to not just treat humans with respect and kindness but also our family dog and other animals.
- We do not slap, flick or spank, even as a joke! These days so much is done in the name of love!
- We do not undermine natural processes. Ex- stinky poo! Cause if not for that she would be constipated!
- We do not use terms like “good girl.” Good for who? Good is comparative. Good means my child must live their life to make you happy? If she does not please you, then bad girl? We instead use terms like- I love you, brave, wise, funny, kind…..
“When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created. When people see things as good, evil is created.”- Lao Tzu
In saying above, we always try our best, make several mistakes and learn each time. But we choose to view her as a respected small individual rather than a helpless one. As a teacher, I have observed the below with children:
- Only a child that has been respected, can truly respect another being.
- Children are a reflection of what we see them as.
- Children are also a reflection of who we are. So we as parents constantly work at being our most authentic, loving and kind self.
“Many awful things have been done in the name of love, but nothing awful can be done in the name of respect.”- Magda Gerber.
These are our beliefs and what we have known and learned. We don’t judge other parents (cause everyone has their own way) and we expect to not be judged either. Does this resonate with anyone?