As a Montessori educator for over 25 years, I have had countless happy moments with children. I have delighted in their play, joy and work. But the moments that have brought me the greatest pleasure are those that I have not been a participant in but an observer.
What do all these observable moments have in common? The inner knowing of the child to find himself in his own accomplishments. I have seen it in on the faces of 14 year olds, exhausted and hungry from hiking the highest mountain in Maine and THEN a 3 mile hike to camp. I have seen it on a 4 year-old's face as he asks for his fifteenth word to write with his movable alphabet. It is subtle yet powerful.
The key is to wait for it. The child’s timing is not our own. Anyone who has had to wait for their 3 year old to put on a sock or exit a car independently knows that! We adults are constantly chattering and moving and doing for our children. Stopping ourselves, slowing it down, taking the opportunity to observe and really notice is required for this experience. Try it. Sit on your hands or bite your tongue if needed. When we take that step away from the constant comments and running commentary we tend towards with our children, they will unfold before our eyes. And it’s beautiful.
If we can accomplish this, amazing things begin to happen. Our children take on and enjoy responsibility for themselves and their part in the world no matter what their age.
By accomplishing a task with out the cheerleading and praise of the adult, the child experiences an inner knowing and understanding of what they are really capable of. This joy is evidenced, if you wait for it, in a look, a smile, a subtle gesture, a sigh of satisfaction, excited chatter to you or another. Their experience takes on a whole different meaning when it has come from within the child and not from us.
Synonyms of happiness include pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction. I have seen all these on the faces of children reveling in their own accomplishments. It never fails to be one of my happiest moments.
Want to know more about letting go and letting your child? Check out Vicki Hoefle’s fantastic book Duck Tape Parenting http://vickihoefle.com/duct-tape-parenting-book/