Taking the stress out of your child's annual celebrations!

Posts tagged ‘Family’

The Human Connection In a Digital Age

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Saturday was a special day for me.

I had just finished a puppet show at a lovely little 3 year old girl’s birthday party and was emerging from behind the puppet booth. Waiting for me was one of the older audience members, a young lady of 11 years old. I had been watching this girl  during the show , as I peeked through the black fabric from behind the puppet booth. I like to gauge my little audience members reaction during the show so I can up the pace or slow things down or throw in a good chase if needs be. I had spotted this particular young lady as she had stood out as being a great role model for the younger children, hopping alongside them with naughty Bobby Bunny and providing a nice safe lap to sit on when they were finished. She was being so kind and supportive and not at all ‘too cool for school’ that youngsters these days are supposedly expected to be.

I believe with passion that children are capable of great levels of concentration no matter how old they are. It really just depends what you expect them to concentrate on.

In this digital age we are constantly told that our children have the attention span of a gnat or a goldfish. Children’s television programming is based on this supposition, requiring lots of fast action and constant changing to keep the attention of the young audience. Cartoons are fast action and noisy , attempting to hold on to our imaginations. It must be the case that children have short attention spans then?

I don’t agree. Give a child attention of the human variety. Pay heed to their likes and tickle their funny bones and you will keep their attention for as long as you want. It is not unknown for me to have a bunch of two year old’s hanging off my every word and action for a good hour. We will play familiar games and do lots of hopping and play with words like Nincompoop and giggle till our bellies hurt.  The parents are often astonished seeing their children so engaged . Is this magic? Not at all. This is just simple human contact, a grown up who is prepared to play alongside a child , like a child, making play something special and important.

Back to my lovely 11 year old girl. She looked at me with big brown puppy dog eyes and said : ” I remember you from when I was 3! It was the same show, I can’t believe it! ”

The look of sheer wonderment and excitement in her eyes  and the clear emotional connection in her voice was both touching and validating. The continuity for me was so comforting. To know that I create  cherished memories in young peoples minds is almost overwhelming.

 

Our children are capable of much more than we know. Let’s give them a chance to live life in the slow, human lane  in this digital fast paced world of ours. For it is in that slow human lane that we find joy and make memories.

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Boundaries: A Safe Space To Run Free

Boundaries, now there’s a word to make most people switch off. Before you do, please hear me out.

The concept of boundaries gets a raw deal in my opinion. People shy away from creating boundaries as if by so doing they will  be making themselves into the ‘bad guy’.  Although they take a little resolve and confidence to instill, once put into place, boundaries are the foundation of establishing calmness and instilling confidence in those who need a little encouragement and security.

We all need boundaries in our lives to be able to be free. An oxymoron perhaps? On first sight it appears that way. How can imposing limitations create freedom?

Let me give you an everyday example from my work as a London Children’s Entertainer.

When I first started out, many moons ago I didn’t think about boundaries. I didn’t want to be bossy, I wanted to be the fun lady that everybody loved  and I wanted to bring laughter not restriction to a child’s party. So I started doing puppet shows and wondered why the children were behaving so badly. They threw things into the puppet theatre,  they paid constant visits to the back of the theatre whilst I was performing, interrupting the show. They pulled the puppets, threw things at them, and kicked and pulled the puppet theatre. Aargh! Those terrible children, you might think.

This doesn’t happen any more and it’s not because I came over all ‘School Ma’am’ and thrashed them with a cane. ( metaphorically of course, that would be illegal and not very nice.)

It dawned on me pretty quickly that I had forgotten an important thing. I had forgotten to speak to the children and let them know my boundaries. Communication, how could I have forgotten about this ? In order for us to be able to have fun together we needed to simply negotiate with each other.

I had come into a party looking like a silly lady, colourfully dressed with ribbons in my hair. I didn’t look like an authority figure ( thank goodness) but I was still expected to keep the party under control but without anyone realising I was controlling. Of course the children were going to test my limits, see how far the silly ‘clown’ lady would go. So they did those ‘naughty’ things and watched my reaction.

Cesar Millan on Small Dogs vs. Big Dogs

Image by watchmojo via Flickr

All I needed to do was to use my calm/assertive energy and quietly explain to the children why they shouldn’t pull the puppet theatre or puppets, or go around the back of the puppet theatre. Once I explained why I didn’t want the children to do those things ( it wasn’t safe, they could pull the puppet theatre over etc) I could see the children visibly relax. I didn’t need to tell them not to poke or pull me once I had used this ‘leader’ energy. It simply didn’t happen. I took my theory from the wonderful  and awesome Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan. It seems his theory works very well with people (especially the mini-people) as well as dogs!

Now children can have fun in peace, knowing that I don’t have to shout at them . Parties seem to end up as a  bit of a ‘Love-In’ with children offering countless cuddles and high fives to this silly lady after the show.

So, next time you are considering setting boundaries but are frightened of consequences, don’t be. They may be just what the doctor ordered!

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