Apologies if you are reading this in desperation for an answer to this question, I am not about to give one, just exploring the dilemma that I face daily with my two little explorers. Outside, go for it! But inside…
This morning I fixed a mobile and wait for it… my beloved bureau. Yes E dared to touch and rip off the paper I so lovingly and carefully glued and varnished in place of the old ripped leather, I am more than a little sad about it. Two other things await repair after this morning’s rampage, a pompom garland that needs rethreading after it’s cord was snapped and a felted zebra who’s hanging string was ripped out. It is a good job I am the creative sort, the sort that is a jack of all trades and master of none, otherwise these items would become sad and redundant. I shall add the fixing of these items to my very long list of things to do around running after and being climbed on by two little monkeys.
Emptying kitchen drawers
So my question to you is when is it right to say no? All too often I find myself saying this dreaded word, “no!”… don’t make puddles of water with your beaker all over the dining room, “no!”… don’t turn on the oven, “no!”… don’t climb on the windowsills, “no!” don’t empty the clothes horse onto the floor, “no!”… don’t rip my books, the list of no’s goes on.
I work as a forest school leader and a field studies teacher in outdoor education settings, recently I walked into work to find someone troubled by health and safety and potential law suits had stapled hazard signs to every tree stump in our play area. I saw red that day, surely every outdoor education setting has an unwritten ethos to inspire and equip children to fully experience the outdoors? The problem? the world is full of things children can’t touch and things they can’t do, children need to experience things in order to learn to risk asses potential hazards they face in everyday life and with a no touching approach to life can you really fully experience anything?
Health and safety overload
At home I want my children to be relaxed and free from these constraints but sometimes I have to say “no!” for their own good. Also much of the time that I say no they are playing and children learn through play so although irritating play it is good for their development. I feel I need to strike a balance, if I continue to say no as often as I do, won’t the word just become white noise? If I say it all the time when faced with a dangerous scenario will they listen? My plan is to only say no when really necessary, if it just causes irritation and no harm will be done I will try to avoid the dreaded word (I make no promises, it is tough when you are feeling irritated but I shall try).
I enclose two exerts from ‘Five Children and It’ by E Nesbit… It is useful to remember what our world is like through the eyes of a child.
“London has none of those nice things that children may play with without hurting the things or themselves – such as trees and sand and woods and waters. And nearly everything in London is the wrong sort of shape – all straight lines and flat streets, instead of being all sorts of odd shapes, like things in the country. Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in streets, where the blades of grass don’t grow, everything is like everything else. This is why so many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty.”
“The best part of it all was that there were no rule about not going to places and not doing things. In London almost everything is labelled ‘You mustn’t touch,’ and though the label is invisible it’s just as bad, because you know it’s there, or if you don’t you jolly soon get told.”