“I want to stay over here for a while” my 4.5 year old announces quietly as we arrive at a creek with some friends.
“Sure, I’ll be over there saying hello” I reply without a pause in my step.
We exchange happy hellos and little eyes flash over in Cameron’s direction.
“He just needs some time” I smile to his friend.
Picnic blankets are arranged, babes are boobed and worn, toddlers and kids have snacks and set off to explore. I turn around to see the quiet exchange of greetings and the next thing I know any apprehension has gone.
I think one of the biggest hurdles I have when it comes to parenting respectfully is the judgement that comes with straying from the norm. Too often I get the sense that people think my parenting reinforces less than ideal behaviours. For some reason, sensitivity and shyness are viewed with negativity by society. Particularly with boys. I have wrote about shyness previously.
I think that when you parent consciously (natural, mindful, gentle, respectfully whatever you call it!), sometimes any perceived negative traits in your children are considered byproducts of your parenting choices. Oh, you discipline gently, that’s why your child is throwing a tantrum. You wear your baby? Must be why they’re not sleeping through the night.
Similarly, I think some people view Cameron’s shyness and difficulty in social situations as a result of my parenting choices – rather than as part of his character. & they consequently push their ideals onto him – expecting him to join in before he is ready or not allowing him to have time to himself – and it only exacerbates the issue.
Parenting a sensitive child respectfully takes patience and sometimes, preparation.
What a sensitive child needs is a parent who is supportive and understanding, but helps them to deal with anxieties and is able to consistently guide them to feel safe. It is also beneficial if you can encourage your sensitive child to take risks socially and help them to feel pride in their social successes, no matter how small.
Keeping an open dialogue about coping with big emotions and difficult situations is so important. I love that Cam knows that he can talk to me and that I’m always there to come back to when the world seems daunting to him.
My highest aim is to model resilience and confidence to Cameron (while being vulnerable and showing him that I make mistakes and deal with difficult social situations too.) I empathise with his introversion and sensitivity. I too am ‘shy’ and think that I’m a pretty great person as a result of that (not in spite of it!)
I’m truly thankful for my fellow home educating friends I have made as they are genuinely supportive of my parenting. I think having that village is so important no matter what your parenting ideals are.