Yet, the blog is meant to be for children as well.
Well, not necessarily for children to read, but for parents to pass the wisdom on to them.
Yesterday, while walking along a path inside the kibbutz, I noticed a 4 year old on his plastic motorcycle purposefully run into his 2 year old brother. The mother approached her child, reprimanded him, let out a long sigh, and then noticed me passing her way. She called over to me. “Shira, you must have advice for me. You have 3 boys. How do you deal with this? I don’t want to yell at my four year old all the time. When I put him in his room, he just runs out and then I have to chase him to get him back in. I don’t want to lose my patience with my children, but I’m at my wits’ end.”
Now, even though I have 4 children, I am far from believing I am an expert parent. I never give unsolicited advice to anyone.
But, she approached me.
And, so, I answered.
I told her what I do with my kids:
- I first ask them if they are stuck on a branch.
(Recall: I was working on a children’s book this year on this very topic, so my children are quite familiar with the terminology.)
Usually, I don’t get an immediate response, but by the look of their eyes, I can tell something is registering.
- Then, I ask them on which branch they are stuck.
Usually, they are too angry, frustrated, or upset to express anything to me. So, I make suggestions to them and they respond yes or no.
- Then, I ask them where they feel that emotion in their body. (This is usually easy for my five year old who always tells me he feels it in his belly.)
- Then, I ask them to take a breath and just continue to notice the feeling. And then, either we talk about the situation, or, more times than not, they just run back to playing (because, on their own, they realize that if they stay stuck, they will miss something very important in their lives at that moment).
I am not necessarily teaching my kids how to prevent getting into negative situations, and certainly not how to run away from them, but rather how to just notice them and notice how to be in them.
And, allow the moment to arise where they can notice what they are missing when they are stuck.
And, help them notice when the emotion eventually dissipates.
As the holiday of Sukkot approaches, in which Jews build temporary huts commemorating the 40 years when the Children of Israel wandered in the desert after the Exodus, I encouraged each of my children this year to make their own branch with which to help decorate our family Sukkah (temporary hut).
So that even when the holiday is over, the branch can hang in their room and act as a reminder and guide for when they get stuck.
Because we all do.