Yesterday as we were driving home from our farm pick-up, I was aware of my almost five year old’s running commentary on life. She was tired, and definitely gets “more chatty” the more tired she becomes. “Mommy, I want to have a sleepover with Timmy. Older Sister could come and sleep with Timmy’s older sister and I could sleep in Timmy’s bed. I wouldn’t be afraid…” “I am so hungry, I am starving!” “I am bored!” “It’s cold outside but I am not wearing my hat! My hat itches!” Chatter, chatter, chatter, complain, complain, complain.
How often do we feel the need to jump in to a tired, whiny, four or five year old’s world and talk them to death about it? How often do we jump in and negate her feelings? I could have said, “You are too young to go have a sleepover away from us.” “If you had eaten your lunch, you wouldn’t have been so hungry now.” “Your hat is fine, it fits you perfectly!”
What does a tired, hungry, whiny child need? No comment! Especially no comment on future plans that are not even in the works with all the reasoning about said future event. Stop talking! A smile, some distraction with singing, a reassurance that “we will be home soon” is all that is needed.
A tired, hungry child needs their basic needs for food,rest and connection met. If they cannot rest at that time (ie, it is dinner time and they need to stay up a bit longer and cannot nap now), how about some soothing repetitive physical activity? Pouring water, a bath, winding yarn, carding wool are all good choices.
Donna Simmons of Christopherus takes this approach with little children who are “chatterers” here: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2005/12/litle_ones_who_.html
Make it your work this Advent season to have “no comment” unless it is essential. And this is morphing from children into Grown-Up Land, but please consider making it your work this Advent season to listen more than you talk, and to gather information before you blurt out a conclusion or advice. Remember what people want most when they talk to you is often just what a child wants – a warm smile, a hug, a bit of understanding. Sometimes the journey is long and rough, and ultimately one experienced within that individual’s soul.