Re: Children: Letting them work it out
From: jsutfran (jsutfranaol.com)
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 07:59:38 -0800 (PST)
  HI all -
I am moving into Catoctin Creek Village cohousing community next year.  
Presently, I am involved with 23 other homeschooling families who have rented a 
farm where we gather for activities, to hang out, classes, knitting, etc etc 
etc....  We've been in our space for almost a year....
 
Regarding, the kids' play, fighting, etc....
 
The first few months were difficult as people found their groove, so to 
speak....  I'm one of the persons who has children who learned reading and 
soccer on their own....  I'm on the side of 'letting them work it out'.....  I 
believe kids come with a lot more skills that have been unlearned by adults.... 
like asking for what you want and NOT being so co-dependent....
 
Children are 'loosely' supervised here.... 3-4 year olds roam the barn 
area.....  Kids have their own friends and activities....  there is great 
flux....  
 
I don't think there should be rules around children 'getting along'....  I 
don't think things should be worked out immediately as it tends to fall into a 
"he did, she did'....  often when people calm down, the issue isn't so 
important.... if it's a continuing issue, the kids talk about it... they've had 
some meetings to try and work out some issues.... our premise for everything is 
communication communication communication.....  
 
We don't have a 'no hitting' rule.... what's the point?  A rule means a 
consequence.... what's the point?   I don't believe that consequences 
necessarily change behavior - exp. when hitting is typically NOT 
pre-planned....  
 
My son was a hitter and would berate himself in his head after hitting such 
that anything anyone else ever said was pointless.... I did not want him to 
grow up having that type of experience with himself... I learned to offer him 
food and be compassionate to him when he hit because it meant he had lost 
control and that was bec. he hadn't eaten or was very upset about something....
 
Sometimes kids are taunted and then hit and then the hitter gets in trouble.... 
sometimes a child hits and it's not a big deal to the person hit..... who 
decides??
 
If  a child feels 'left out', is it the responsibility of the group to 
'include' that person?  I know of some people who perpetually feel 'left 
out'.... what can you do?  It's my preference to work with my child and her/his 
feelings separately from the group.  Is the group 'causing' this feeling?  
 
I believe it is anyone's choice to say "I don't want to play with you now."
 
I believe that it is okay for kids to move in and out of friendships.... I 
believe it is okay for a child to feel hurt or get hurt by a snowball or 
lightsaber.... Oddly, in our community of kids (ages 2-14) with a lot of boys 
who like to swing sticks - nobody has gotten majorly hurt from a stick.... a 
broken arm happened on the swingset but we don't talk about taking it down......
 
In our homeschooling community, we've had issues regarding the stick play/sword 
fighting, the 'boys only/girls only' stuff, the verbal fights, the physical 
fights among the kids.....  Nothing is ever perfect but the bottom line is that 
we try to stay in community.... trust the kids to ask for help when needed..... 
trust the adults to ask for help of each other when needed (like ask another 
parent to mediate your own child's situation).....
we have adults who feel the kids should be supervised more.... they hang around 
outside with their kids.... sometimes it gets to be too much for them so they 
ask for help "the kids are jumping out of the tree and it's scaring me. I'm 
sure they're safe but it makes me crazy.  Could you come out with your kids 
while they do this?"  OR "I'm feeling lonely... could you join me at the picnic 
table?"
 
If a child is feeling poorly about his/her place in the community, then that 
could be communicated..... I've seen an email that said, "hey, things are hard 
right now... could someone call me and offer me some support?"  Ask for what 
you need...  
 
Nothing is ever permanent.....  Difficult times can look like they last 
forever....  I have been afraid of our community disbanding..... but we come 
back to our core values - and that is being in a tolerant, respectful, 
inclusive community..... and the good times have a outweighed the bad a hundred 
times over.... there are no absolutes.....
 
I believe that adults take on too much of what's going on for the kids....  I 
would not want to participate in monthly parenting meetings to hash out the 
issues....  you may listen to how the parents express their concern for how 
their child is treated - it may reflect their own insecurities and childhood 
issues about exclusion, being different, fear of being seen as stupid, bullies. 
etc  
 
I believe the most valuable thing adults can do is to stay calm.... don't 
blame... and take it all in stride.... 
 
I like to compare the children's behavior/rules to adults.... do adults want to 
sit around and re-hash feelings.... sometimes yes, sometimes no..... do adults 
want consequences for losing their temper?  would it be helpful?  I believe 
compassion is best..... are consequences effective for adults - not always....  
do consequences make for responsible contributions - I don't think so....
 
perhaps you could ask what the kids want.... perhaps they'd say that things are 
fine... if not, you can go from there....
 
Best wishes, Shelly... hope my comments are helpful.... sorry for rambling.....
Jane
 

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