Giving Children a Voice

I read an interesting article today by Lisa Bloom about how to talk to little girls. The main argument was not to focus on how they look but on what they are interested in or thinking about.  This gave me much food for thought.  One of the main things I have wanted for my girls when they grow up is to be confident enough to say what they think, to question things and offer an opinion and to have strong self belief.  I would like them to be confident around other people like their dad rather than holding back like myself.

The article suggests asking girls about their mind – what they like and dislike and why.  I’m not sure that I remember being asked as a child ‘what do you think?’  I was told that I was beautiful, lovely and clever, I spent hours with my nose in a book, but I’m not sure anyone ever asked me to tell them about what I was reading. I’m not great at feeling that what I am thinking is important – I’d like that to be different for my girls.

So we tried it at the lunch table.  Sitting at the table together at mealtimes is another thing that is really important to me. Some of my friends think I’m a bit loopy because I eat at 12 and 5 with the kids everyday. I had such a positive experience at mealtimes with my eldest daughter when she was younger, talking about things, playing games and singing songs that I have kept it sacred for all of us.  It isn’t always calm or idyllic and sometimes can be stressful when each child is placing demands for things but at least we get the opportunity to talk if the need arises.

At the lunch table today I told the girls about what I had been reading and that I didn’t remember being asked what I was thinking or feeling when I was a little girl.  I told them that this is what I had been thinking about and I would go around and they could tell me about something they were thinking about or feeling.  Ok we didn’t quite get into philosophical discussions, but the girls began to tell stories.  We made up a story together about my middle daughter who decided she would like to shrink to go in a toy plane.  My 2 year old suggested that the magic could occur by pressing a special button on her fork. We talked about landing in a drink and thought about which drinks might be pleasant to swim in and others that would not, they chose orange juice amused by the idea that they would be sticky. 

How would you get out of the cup?

I could climb

So now you are all sticky how will you get clean?

With magic

Yes a fairy could come and magic you clean and then you could press the fork again to get bigger.

So we had a story and a peaceful and happy lunchtime. 

 I’m keen to encourage the girls to talk to me about things, I always ask my 7 year old if there is anything on her mind that she would like to talk about.  She rarely does and I respect that.  I hope that if I start to share some of my thoughts with them that they will feel comfortable enough to talk to me if the need arises. I want them to know that what they have to say is important – I’ll let you know if I succeed.

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