Clear communication is very satisfying for me. Clarity in my thinking is satisfying and so rewarding when it happens. There are many common phrases in our current language that are not clear for me and in fact, shift the focus onto the opposite of the statement's intention.
“Don’t lose that”.
It has been very satisfying for me to uses phrases with the child that feel clear.
He knows how to “keep track of it” when he is holding something like the buggy key or a few dollars for the church offering plate. I feel so fulfilled knowing that my 4 year old child can be trusted to hold things that he wants to hold. He feels like a big boy and enters into a trust relationship with me when he is allowed to participate in so many aspects of our life. He doesn’t “lose” things because we are not focused on things being “lost”. We focus on paying attention and “keeping track” of important things. (I don’t really know what “keep track” means or where that phrase originated, but it seems to work.)
While he climbs tall metal, broken stock trailers, I am able to relax because I trust that he will stay alert. I don’t ever say be careful because I’m not real sure what that means and it implies fear and avoiding some unknown danger. I like him to know that he has the ability to interact safely with his environment, always. The first time he told me what he wanted to do, he was sort of asking if I thought he could do it and if it was safe. I said ok, yes, you can climb up on the roof of that thing. He was quite excited. As I walked away down the lane to get the cows for milking, I turned around and faced him and said, “stay alert”. He stopped climbing and asked, “for it breaking?”. I said Yes. (Always affirm when possible.) “Yes, listen for sounds of cracking. Also be aware of things that are smooth and things that might be sharp and pointy.” He agreed, continued climbing, and I walked on down the lane, confident in his ability and basking in the glory of his enjoyment of Life. It feels so good to communicate clearly with another human.
Being around 800 lb animals every morning during milking time was something I wanted to handle really well right from the beginning so that Mateo was always safe and he always felt safe. I also wanted him to enjoy the animals and feel the loving bond we share with them. I never told him to be careful around the animals. I feel that would imply an unseen, scary danger that he somehow needs to avoid but doesn’t quite know how to. I also never told him to get back when he’s too close to a cow. That is not really clear and it feels scary in my heart. I did feel scared sometimes when we were around the cows but I didn’t want to focus on that and I wanted Mateo to focus on and develop the skills necessary to stay safe around the cows. Working with cows asks one to stay alert and be aware. Just be gently conscious of where they are, where they are headed, who is behind them that may change the situation. It felt good to focus on his control, his ability to act. So I use the phrase “give her some space”. When I think he’s too close to a cow he knows that he can “give her some space”. That is always his option. He doesn’t need to try and figure out what get back means, how far back, where do I go? He knows that in any moment he has the power to give something space so he is always safe. Especially because he is staying alert.
(All for now)