Many may disagree with my stance on this particular mindset shift but I am one to believe in personal voice as far as that concept can be utilized. I wait and see before jumping into sibling debate. I don’t readily interfere with playground tiffs unless it is clear someone is being hurt, (then I will mediate between the two parties rather than solve the problem for them.) That and modeling healthy debate is the extent of my responsibility. I let my children work through things using their own voice as far as it is possible. This may sound hands off, neglectful or permissive to some, that’s ok, each their own. I feel differently, particularly as a child grows older, wiser and more mature.
Children resort to undesireable behaviour when they feel they are not truly heard, they do not require a heavy hand of discipline, they require personal voice encouragement and an active listening participant who was involved in the disagreement. To me it is trust in children’s voice to express their opinion clearly to others and opportunity to practice the fine art of debate without my adult (who is removed from the actual situation) opinions interference. I’m close, I’m listening, I can mediate if that is their desire and I will even use this experience later to discuss the finer points of disagreement solutions with my child.
Mutual truce (when a solution cannot be reached due to external influence) and mutual agreement are playground skills that will help children make better decisions as adults. It is an exercise in empathy. Actively listening out for the needs of others, knowing and expressing ones own needs and creatively incorporating them into a workable solution for all involved is something many adults can’t even accomplish. One group of people can though, these are the entrepreneurs. Individuals capeable of creating empathic need and want solutions for groups of people beyond those that satisfy their immediate needs.
Entrepreneurs are also people who succeed in some way that is important to them and their success is worthy of admiration from others in some way. Here’s the catch though, no one succeeds alone. Others help, sometimes in not so obvious ways. Having the charisma to meet others needs as well as your own and succeed comes from those playground negotiation skills and decades of active practice. Removing the opportunity to hone those skills does the child a disservice. They learn instead to rely on others to create solutions or simply forsake their own needs in place of another’s to keep the peace, a perfect reflection of the adult fear of offence. Children are not born distrusting their voice. They start off throwing tantrums in public and asking fat people all the time if they are having a babies, there’s no fear of offence. Then slowly they move away from their inner voice they tattle tale on other kids or lie to get out of trouble. During the teenage years and beyond they self harm either physically or via self imposed mental sabotage because they distrust their own voice so much that they feel as though they don’t even hear themselves let alone anyone else hearing them… That distrust comes from roots of modeled fear of offence and the denial of learning opportunity and personal voice.