I have many beliefs in children. I believe children are great. Children are undervalued in society right now. They hear “no” too often in their short lives. Granted, “no” can’t be 100% avoided, but saying “yes” is easier… and a lot more fun! Let’s say yes to children! I’ve seen so many parents shielding their child from the world. We can’t let them get hurt, they can’t test their limits physically, they can’t give thoughtful comments, they can’t be sad–only happy emotions are allowed. We aren’t letting them experience all the wonders this world has to offer!
I once introduced two/three-year olds to shaving cream. HOW FUN IS SHAVING CREAM?! My little group had never been around it. Other kids I’ve worked with would have been ecstatic to play with it. They all looked at me like, “Kayla, why are you making a mess on the table?” I was able to spay it in front of all SEVEN kids without them jumping on the opportunity to mess with it. I have never seen that happen before!
Eventually one kiddo spoke up, “What do we do?” I responded, “Anything! It might taste yucky and hurt our eyes, so let’s keep it out of our mouth and eyes.” They continued to stare. So, I sprayed some in my hands, rubbed them together and put a hand print on the table. Slowly each child started to play with it –except one.
He sat with his hands in his lap watching his friends play. I asked if he wanted to try and he said “No dirty.” I showed him how the bucket of water would wash it all off. He still wanted nothing to do with it. Everyone else played with the shaving cream and water for an hour. After they had tried it out I added cups, bowls, and spoons to the play. Once they experienced it, they loved it.
I have a laid-back approach with children. About what children, even toddlers, should be able to do and experience at such young ages. Even though they are little, they can still experience the world around them.
So, here are my beliefs on why we should say yes to children:
I believe children should be able to laugh and be silly. They should be able to test their own limits. They should be able to climb as high as they can (with adult supervision). They should be able to use their imagination, be creative.
I believe children can use tools, like a hammer and nails, to create an art piece. Children can roll around in the grass. Or even lay in it to watch the clouds and birds in the sky. Children can jump in a mud puddle (Guess what, clothes can be washed and dried. *gasp*). Children can taste icicles and eat snow…just not the yellow snow.
I believe children are able to enjoy all colors, not just the bight colors toys are made with. Children are be able to enjoy the company of others, but also be able to tell someone they don’t want to play right now. Children can create their own rules for their play. Children can play music as loud and out of key as they want. They can also color outside the lines.
I believe children need to be treated with respect. Children’s emotions, good or bad, need to be valued. Children can laugh when they are feeling goofy and cry when they are upset — how else will they learn to manage emotions? Children need to explore their environment, inside and outside. Children need to be able to dig, run, slide, climb, etc.
I believe children need to apologize in a meaningful way. Children can be polite in declining toys, food, and friendships. Children can help with daily household chores. Children can handle big jobs. Children can enjoy beautiful spaces. Children can enjoy reading and looking at books and pictures.
I believe children are strong. Children are capable. Children are resilient. Children are caring. Children are thoughtful. Children are creative. Children are curious. Children are knowledgeable. Children are smart. Children are fearless. Children are understanding. Children are loving.
I believe if we say yes more than we say no, we open the doors to endless possibilities for children to discover and learn about the world around them.
It amazes me everyday what happens when I say yes to children.
Even for being so young they have a lot of insight about the world around them. They are able to do so much more than we think. There will always be times when they need help. I still ask my parents for help!
I started really incorporating this philosophy in my life while I was taking my Early Childhood classes at UW. Before then, I didn’t say “no” all of the time, but I did say it a lot more than I do now. I started by just watching the children I was around, following their lead. If you ever start observing your children, you will find that they will start to do something that generally gets a “no” response. As they do it, they look at you, checking to see when you’ll stop them, but still continue. What I fear will happen, usually never happens, they make it out just fine.
Observing children, just to see what they want to do, I think, is better than stopping them before they try. As adults, we understand that if we climb too high we could fall and get hurt, but the best way for children to learn that, is to have it happen. When children want to climb, be a safety net in case they do fall. I believe our job as caregivers (parents, family members, teachers, etc.) is to be the safety net that catches them if they fall and bounce them back up after it happens.
I hope this post inspires you to say yes to your children (at home or in the classroom) more often, just to see what comes of it! Let the children take the reigns to show off their talents. Follow the lead of each child to see where it takes you! They are full of surprises! 🙂
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