Sometimes I marvel at how hard it is to be respectful of my children. I mean, I birthed them, still change their diapers, and can pick them up and carry them. So it’s hard to remember that they aren’t little beings for me to control.
I try to think about it like this: if this child were an adult, how would I be acting and speaking in this moment? Would I be yelling? Probably not. Would I spank them? Probably not (consenting adults excepted, of course). Would I constantly be telling them what to do? Probably not.
It’s easiest for me to remember this on occasions where my child might need help. Usually when one of them falls down, I watch and wait instead of rushing in to pick them up and make a fuss. Perhaps I acknowledge their fall verbally, “Oops, you fell down. Back up on your big strong legs!” (this last comes from my neighbor Heather, a nice affirmation of their physical capabilities). But otherwise I don’t intervene unless they seem truly hurt or upset, just as I might do with an adult who trips and falls. And even then I tend to be on the calm side, so that they don’t become total drama queens, or at least any more than their natural proclivities!
When my son was born, I took a parenting class through Rudolf Steiner College, where in addition to Waldorf methods, I learned about RIE, or Resources for Infant Educarers. The amazing thing about RIE was that it taught me that children, even infants, mostly need us just to be present, but not necessarily actively directing them. When my son was an infant and needed a bit of extra help with his physical development, I found just letting him move freely on the floor, with a few toys for motivation, and me sitting quietly nearby, allowed him the space to learn and grow at his own pace. I think it allowed him to be confident in his body, and secure that I was there for him without interfering.
Nowadays it’s a bit harder, with two toddler/preschoolers full of emotion, needing to assert independence whether it’s convenient or not, and way too smart for their own good! I need constant reminding that they are human beings, albeit small ones, with their own agendas and destinies. I am here to keep them safe, be a role model, and shower them with love. Everything else is just my stuff getting in the way.