the nest

the nest

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This morning I read a blog post regarding how important it is to acknowledge a child's feelings or experience.  GOOD STUFF.  Hard to remember in the moment.  It can feel like we are are indulging them or condoning bad behavior, but it's really not.  There is a big difference between holding out your hand to go and saying "I see you are frustrated with me.  It's hard when I tell you we have to go and you're having a good time, isn't it?" and saying something like "ok we can stay a few more minutes," or "if you don't come now, we won't ever come back to the park."  We all need to know we are understood.

While the blog was particularly speaking to those caring for young children, it's thoughts are applicable to EVERYONE!  We ALL need to feel understood.  The blogger suggests writing the word "acknowledgement" on your hand as a regular reminder.  I'm not sure I'll do that, but I might put it on post-in notes around my house!

 I wonder how my daughters would react if instead of saying "Would the two of you quick bugging each other!" for the millionth time, I said something like "I can tell the two of you are trying to figure out how to be together.  It's frustrating when you want to say something or ask a question and your sister doesn't let you finish or snaps at you, isn't it?"  Sounds too easy, but I just might try it.

Acknowledgement probably works with dogs too!  Lily and Daisy are trying to figure each other out and while they mostly ignore one another, when treats or affection are involved, there is some "frustration" on their part.  I'm getting used to the way they "argue", and while Lily is beginning to stand her ground more, Daisy is pretty quick to back off when I command.  This morning, I made the mistake of giving Daisy a treat slightly ahead of Lily - Daisy headed for Lily's as well and they had "words."  Totally my fault; I know this is tricky for them and it's easy enough the give them treats separately.  Calling them off and then giving them each some love and acknowledging that they aren't sure how this all works and are figuring it out, helped me feel better and they each calmed quickly and went to their respective corners where they are currently snoring away.

It's interesting to think about "acknowledgement" instead of "understanding".  They are similar, but not the same.  Acknowledgement indicates that you "see" something or someone as valid, but not necessarily that you understand, agree or like.  When my son was a little boy he went through a phase where he would simply walk by people at our church who would greet him.  He also did this (and sometimes still does!) to his sisters.  What would make me most upset with him and what I think he finally understood, was that when someone speaks to you and you ignore them, your lack of acknowledgement tells them that they don't matter.  It invalidates them.  The worst thing you can do is pretend someone doesn't exist.  You don't have to like someone to simply say "Hello!"  Saying something like "I can't talk right now, but it's good to see you,"  says "I see you, I acknowledge you," but allows you to move on your way.   This also explains why I ALWAYS respond when a baby or young child says "HI!" at the grocery store.  Nothing used to annoy me more when my children were little than when they would say "Hi" to someone in line and would be completely ignored.  IT'S RUDE!

As my children get older, I don't always "understand" their feelings and choices, but I know that I need to be better at acknowledging them.  I have to let them muddle through and make their own choices and inevitable mistakes, but it's important they know that I hear them and that they can share their innermost thoughts and feelings with me without fear that I will judge them or reject them.  I think I do pretty well at the thoughts and feelings thing, but I need to work on the "choices."  Acknowledging choices I might disagree with is trickier.  I hope they know that no matter what choices they make in life, I am always here for them.  I will love them forever and will do my best to always "acknowledge" their struggles and victories.

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