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NatureInterface > No.03 > P078 [Japanese]

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Stop, Look and Listen: Three Keywords for Raising Children

KAZUKO TAKEUCHI

Finding a universal child-raising method is very difficult, as we each have our own living environment, family structure and point of view. You grope every day for the best way to raise your child. In time you find your own way, through the opinions of other parents, the childcare counseling corners in the media and magazine articles on child-raising. Yet many times, as you watch your children's sleeping faces, you sometimes regret how you've treated your children. Though you feel the importance of caring for your children with a calm and peaceful heart, you are just too tired and go to bed. Next morning, you vigorously start a new day thinking, "I'll be better to my children today!" but the reality is far from your ideal and the day ends again. Raising children is difficult indeed. However, fortunately, the repetition of this daily effort brings up the mother in you little by little. You must neither hurry yourself to get to this point nor give up trying to get there.

Most children spend their infancy with their mothers, so they tend to be affected a lot by them. Many parents want to bring up their children with affection and indulgence. When our children resemble us in their behavior, we tend to spoil them. On the other hand, when they do not, we tend to scold them. Children are brought up at the direction of their mothers. I can't help feeling the serious responsibility of mothers.

'Stop,' 'look' and 'listen' are the three keywords of child-raising that I learned while I brought up my children. When my oldest child was five years old, I gave birth to my fourth child. Though I was physically very busy every day, I think I was able to care for my children with a peaceful heart, thanks to these key words.

For example, I 'stop' before I tell my children "Suppertime." I stop and see what they're doing. If they're absorbed in a puzzle, they'll never notice me standing there. They are in their own world. They are about to finish the puzzle: only three pieces are left. I just 'look' at them at that time. I want to have a peaceful heart to watch what my children do. Life is long. There is no point in having supper a few minutes earlier just for the sake of being on time. After 'listening' to my children saying joyfully, "We did it!" I casually tell them "Let's have supper," then the children usually say obediently, "Yes, let's." We can stay peaceful with such a short passage. If I tell them suddenly, "We'll have dinner," then they will sometimes say no and I'll let them sit at the table only after several arguments. We'll never enjoy supper in such a bad atmosphere.

When my children started to go to kindergarten, I tried to carry out these three words again. I assumed they would take time in preparing themselves, so I woke them up at least one-and-a-half to two hours before it was time to go. Then I tried to let the children do whatever they could, like washing their faces, changing clothes, eating breakfast and bringing their plates to the sink. Again, I always tried to 'stop,' 'look' and 'listen.' I felt as if my patience was being tested. I always made efforts to prepare so that I wouldn't interfere too much with my children.

After my children entered kindergarten, I learned by chance that these three words are also the principles of the Montessori system, a child-raising method established in Italy. I heard that these three words are very useful for bringing up children's concentration ability. I think these three words were also effective for raising children's spirits and helping them become independent. Yet discipline of the mother's mind was necessary to put these words into practice. Mothers have to grow, too. If the mother's heart is tired, things don't go well. Carrying out these words also required a struggle with myself. The cooperation of the husband is also quite important. This is significant especially for keeping peace of mind. It's important for couples to live in harmony and try not to let stress build up.

'Stop,' 'look' and 'listen' are also keywords for relations between adults.

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