Sunday, 31 July 2011

Trust

Littletree has gone on a self-imposed screen-free and sugar-free break, she asked me to hide her computer for a week and to put away her pocket-money so she can’t get sweets and asked me to get extra fruit and veggies.

All this came about while Purple was away in San Francisco for a couple of weeks earlier in the month. I think she just missed him a lot, and turned to spending a lot of time watching DVDs and eating “junk” food to fill in time. After about a week of watching rather a lot of movies, she announced that her head wasn’t feeling good and she was having trouble sleeping, and not feeling good in her body. She identified that it was because of spending too much time in front of a screen, and not eating well enough, and set about making a plan to get better.

Well, it’s been three weeks now, Purple is back, but Littletree is still avoiding sweets, and goes days at a time without turning her computer on. Today was the first time in ages she bought herself chocolates and sat down to watch a DVD.  Then she begged me to make a hearty veggie soup for dinner, with extra kale and garlic.

I’m so impressed with the way Littletree makes healthy choices for herself. She knows her body and is able to recognise what she needs, on her own. I firmly believe this is because she has a 100% unhindered, self-regulated diet. And most of all, because she is trusted.

Without going into the details of how it works, what it comes down to is having an intrinsic trust of the child. It's sub-consciously saying to the child: ‘Of course you'll make healthy choices and I absolutely trust you to do so’. From that, the child gets the message that she is trusted, and therefore trustworthy, and thus, can trust in herself to make the right choices - as all children will, given the right support.

I’ve been talking about this kind of trust all week, and struggling to really define it – it’s a kind of trust that’s bigger than ‘trust’; it’s something so intrinsic and whole-spirit. Then someone sent me this quote from Dr Jeremy Hayward:

"In order to communicate very openly with the world, you need to develop fundamental trust. This kind of trust is not trusting “in” something, but simply trusting. It is very much like your breath. You do not consciously hold on to your breath, or trust in your breath, yet breathing is your very nature. In the same way, to be trusting is your very nature. To be trusting means you are fundamentally free from doubt about your goodness and about the goodness of others."

While the prevailing cultural belief in our society is that children are inherently bad; that they won’t behave “properly” and that if given the slightest chance, they’ll only get up to no good, be spoiled, or worse. Children are treated based on the notion that they need to be trained, restricted and restrained to ensure that they can’t act on their inherent “badness”. Any parent or educator who isn’t constantly vigilant to reign in the inherent unruliness of children will be seen as negligent.

Trusting in children is about coming from an intrinsic belief that children are inherently good. And they *are*. Children truly are good, and they will behave in the manner they are expected to – not necessarily in the way we tell them to with words, but in they way we show them they are supposed to act. For the most part, we show them that they’re bad and going to get up to mischief. We show them that they are going to fall and hurt themselves, that they will eat nothing but sweets and junk if given half the chance.

But with true trust, in an environment that models respectful behaviour, children are perfectly wonderful, social beings. They do the right thing. They learn from their mistakes, rather than being protected from making them.

I trust Littletree. I trust her to go exploring in the candy aisle at the supermarket. I trust her to know how high she can safely climb. I trust her to behave like a sane, healthy, respectful human being. And she does.

DSC00004(Littletree on a climbing wall)

19 comments:

  1. i really really really love this. i'm a preschool teacher and often get in trouble with other teachers/administrators for not reprimanding the kids in my class. i am of this same mindset, but have never been able to put it into words. do you mind if i print this off and put it on display in my classroom? thanks for the constant inspiration!

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  2. Bravo!
    I love that Littletree's journey in life (and my own children) is not going to be stifled by society's expectations! That they (all us us) ARE trustworthy right from the get go. We don't need to earn this right.
    Such a good Mama you are!!
    Blessed Be!!
    Kelly

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  3. Beautiful, Majikfaerie! My kids and I had a very similar conversation just two days ago after an 'encounter' with a mistrustful, disrespectful adult. I have actually been "brewing" a post about it ever since. My kids are trusted and respected and so they treat others with respect, and trust them to behave similarly. They are always surprised when people, especially adults, don't treat them, or other children, the same way. But they still don't change who they are or how they treat others—they remain respectful and kind, and I'm proud to be their mama and friend.

    I love this post, the words and energy, the light of it. I love Littletree's Self—how sure, assured, and mindful she is. Thank you, for your words, and sharing your daughter's beautiful spirit, Majikfaerie! :)

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  4. thanks everyone :) I've actually been "brewing" this post for more than a week. I feel so strongly about this, and find it so hard to get people to understand. It's okay, not everyone will get it, and not everyone will agree - they don't have to! I just had to say it :)

    Camille, you're welcome to post this anywhere, as long as you include credit and a link :)

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  5. Great post! One of those things I knw in theory but have to work on in practice ;)

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  6. yeah, Dylan, that's the hard part. It's hard to break through all the conditioning.

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  7. Thank you, this is exactly how I feel and I am a little sick of defending my choice to trust my child to others. Very well said.

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  8. awesome post! I struggle with this and I know it is my battle of power/control and self doubt. One day I hope to overcome it as I know when I do trust it usually works out ok

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  9. good point about control kebeni - I never realised how much of a control-freak I was until I had Littletree! It's all about letting go :)

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  10. Wow! Did I need to hear this today....simple words and ideas that gave me a real "slap in the face" to put into action what I already believe. Thank you - I love when lessons shine at just the right time for us to be able to hear them!

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  11. Great post! I wanted to tell you how much I loved the book I just finished - Unconditional Parenting - and you've captured several of the key points here. It was even better than Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves IMHO.

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  12. thanks somesortagirl :) Not that any slapping was intended!

    I love that book, Jen - it's one of the first parenting books I read, back when Littletree was about 2. It probably did more to save my marriage than my parenting though!

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  13. I agree with this concept, and we practise it. I do however avoid sugary chemical foods. My kids have free reign over the local raw honey, and can make as many maple syrupy dishes they want. But the chemicals in the confectionary isle are so incredibly bad for a growing body that this is where we draw the line. The damage to the immune system is just too much for us. We don't make a big deal about it, and just choose to shop at our local organics store rather than in a supermarket.

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  14. That is amazing, I am going to start working on this right away so that my little one will have freedom of her choices as she grows up. I have the "trust in your body and its abilities" down in most cases, but hadn't thought about extending it to food as well. Glad I read this!

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  15. Natural Mama, we extend it to pretty much everything; not just food :)
    The trust is whole-life encompassing - something much more than just "trust".

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  17. Very interesting post, I would like to try it, but can I trust myself to :) It's hard to let go of a lifetime of conditioning. What if your partner feels your bonkers and won't do it too?!! Do you think it could work in this situation? I'm really enjoying reading your blog btw. I'm living in Bulgarian mountains with my family and we've recently started home schooling our youngest. Over the last couple of weeks I've started browsing blogs for more info - wow! what a lot there is....

    Thanks for posting,
    Sophie

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    1. Sophie, it really does work best if your partner is on board too. I would gently suggest that if your partner thinks you're "bonkers" for trusting your child, that your partner might want to explore his or her own issues with trust in the self.
      That is by far harder than trusting our children; first we have to break free from, and re-program the conditioning that we were brought up with - that we aren't worthy of trust.

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Thanks for your lovely words, witty banter and entertaining discussion :)