Daring Greatly, in Peace
I’ve been listening to a book by Brené Brown recently. It’s called Daring Greatly. In it, I have found the courage and inspiration I need to face my demons. I’ve pulled my fingers out of my ears and stopped singing ‘la, la, la’ whilst merrily carrying on doing all the same things I always do which get me to the same places I always get to. Along with one of her other books, Braving the Wilderness, Brown has laid out so clearly the ways in which each of us can face our own feelings of shame and inadequacy and set our path in a new way.
What has this got to do with First Playtime and my passion for helping parents and little ones be the best they can be? At First Playtime classes, I work hard to model to parents and their children how to be alongside each other without blame or judgement. Not an easy task! Using my own experiences of being shamed, understanding how that feels, and finding language which conveys non-judgement, I am always hoping to let parents know there’s a different way.
Even the most loved amongst us will have been shamed as a child or teenager. It’s part of our culture. The mistake we parents make, and it’s not limited to parents, of course, is that we pass on the shame that we carry from our own experiences. Let me give you a personal example.
I remember clearly when I first saw a picture in a book of the human reproductive systems. I’m not sure of the circumstances, and I know memory can play tricks on us, but my recollection is that one of my brothers was using the book, so it was probably homework. I was drawn to look at the picture and, as I did so, I heard laughter and someone commented on the fact that I was looking. I can’t now remember what was said, but what I do remember is that I felt ashamed. I see now that I had no reason to, but that little me was overcome with the emotion. The laughter I heard embarrassed me and I felt bad.
When I look back on that, I can still feel that feeling. I don’t blame anyone for the way I was effected by it. There was no cruelty or intent to harm. It’s not now possible for me to remember what might have set me up to feel this way. I also can’t say for sure how deep the effects have gone, but I do know that I have struggled with many things over the years that could have been helped if the culture had not been one in which being me was shameful.
I’ve reached fifty this year, so maybe it’s timely that I get to understand myself and the world around me a little better. But wouldn’t it be great if, in life, we could reach these understandings in time to change the culture for our little ones?
What has this got to do with play?
When the children in my classes play, they are exploring life. Not only do they experiment with climbing, balance, fine motor skills and the like, they are also socialising. They learn from their interactions with each other and the adults around them what is ok and what isn’t. This happens everywhere they go, but in my classes, there is an acceptance that sometimes things happen which are uncomfortable and require resolution.
Sometimes we want something that we can’t have just now. Sometimes someone doesn’t want to play with us when we want them to. When the adults around you accept that you have needs and don’t judge you for them; when you are supported in your interactions and helped to find resolutions to conflict; when you are allowed to cry and not told to be quiet; when you are allowed to keep hold of the thing you’re playing with and not made to share; all these are examples of how we work together to help the children learn how to live peacefully alongside each other, without shame.
None of us is perfect. We all have lessons to learn and lessons to share. At First Playtime, I learn as much from the children and parents who attend as they do from me. And we all do this together in peace and without judgement.
I hope that, if you’re reading this, you might like the sound of that. I have classes available most days and you’re always welcome to visit. I also work with professional carers and would love to hear from you if you’d like to know more about this way of being with children.
Dare greatly, and be in peace.