This morning I overhead a little boy say, “I’m tired,” and he lifted his arms up to be picked up. He was with his mom and their dog out for a walk in the woods, as was I.
His mom replied that he had had a good night’s sleep and he could not be tired.
I passed them and she turned to me and said that he could not be tired as he had had a good night’s sleep. I responded by saying that perhaps he needed a bit of love, a hug, to encourage him to walk, and continued on my way.
However, this short interaction stuck with me. I thought more about it and thought: I think the mother wants him to learn to be strong and independent; that’s why she wants him to walk.
I ran into them again and talked more with her. She told me that she gave him a hug after I had spoken and now he was happy and motivated to run along the creek. “Maybe,” I thought, “the hug was what gave him the energy and maybe the creek was exciting enough that he got over feeling tired.”
Either way, when a parent determines whether someone is tired or not, hungry or not, etc. they are overriding their child’s experience rather than tuning in and hearing what their child is saying.
What if this mother had lifted her son up and carried him for a while? What if she said to him then, honestly, that she was tired? Would she not be teaching him many good things? Such as: his feelings and his experience count; that it is okay to say how you feel and get your needs meet; that it is not necessary for you to override your own feelings.
If this happened, wouldn’t a lot of people be happier because they would trust their own inner voice, their own inner message system?
Try for a day. Take your child’s feelings and go from there. Or, take your own feelings and let them lead you. You may be surprised how much easier life is when you start from the inside out.