Way to go, k'smami
, and all. You guys have been busy, discussing, while I've been out burning up the roads
There is a Taking Children Seriously t-shirt, that has a graphic of two profiles, one the adult with the mouth closed and the ear visible, the other the child with the mouth open. The adult is located in the upper right-hand corner of a square, oriented down toward the child in the lower left-hand corner.
This is not to say that all/most/many parents and adults do not take children seriously, but TCS philosophy advocates for taking children seriously in ways that conventional society does not. Children are not heard, are expected to learn their place and obey without question. This does not foster independent thinking and creative problem solving, both qualities that I think are crucial for people to learn. While the coercion factor is an important part of TCS theory, what the theory has to say about the way people learn is just as important, as are many other aspects.
I think that each person knows what they want. Small children might lack the experience and knowledge to be able to determine what is the best course of action in any particular instance. That is why they deserve to have access to their parents' best theories. Take the instance of a small child protesting being encased in a snowsuit to go out into the snow. Maybe child does not want to go out. Maybe the snowsuit is unbearable uncomfortable or too hot, it could be itchy or something is poking hir. There could be other options of suitable protective clothing that would be more comfortable and that child would be happy to put on. If a parent resorts to coercion as a matter of course, they are relaying the message that what child wants doesn't matter. The person with the power gets their way. And that is the world they will introduce their child to.
If a parent helps child get what they want- to not go outside at the time if child does not want to, to find comfortable clothing that will suit the needs of the climate and activity, to have interesting (to hir) things to do and help to do them as child wishes, child learns that they are able to affect the world, that they do matter. They can have confidence in their ability to know what they want and to be able to work together with others to get it, to the advantage of everyone. Parent helps their self and child to find common preferences, so child learns that others have preferences that are just as important as their own. They learn that one person does not have to lose in order for another to win.
Not socially acceptable to stand on tables? People dance on tables, make speeches from tables, see over a crowd by standing on tables, escape from mice by standing on tables, reach something high or clean a high place by standing on tables, use a table as an impromptu stage or a boat or a bed or an operating table. Children are capable of knowing the difference between times when it is a good idea to stand on tables, and when it is not- and often they come by this knowledge without someone explicitly saying to them 'it's ok to stand on the picnic table outside or the project table in the basement, but if you stand on the kitchen table mom will have your hide' But do parents really want their kids to behave in certain ways, motivated by fear of punishment/consequences of being found out by parents? This does not help kids learn to act based upon rational thought, but rather upon entrenched theories that make it harder for them to think clearly about, say, tables in the future, and then they'll pass that entrenchment right along to their kids and so on.
A parent can be honest with their child. They can explain that they don't want child to stand on the kitchen table because that is where they eat, and they don't want the floor germs from feet on the surface where they eat. Child might respond with, well then, I'll wash the table with a chlorine solution to kill any germs. Parent could respond, yeah, that would take care of that problem, but you might mar the finish, and the finish is really important to me. Could you do the standing on a different table? They can share theories back and forth, look for more information if they need to, and create new knowledge about how tables can be used and germs can be fought and finishes can be protected and explore if there are even better places to stand to get what child wants out of the experience.
OK, so maybe child is not interested in having a discussion about germs and tables. A preverbal child might require more action and less talk, though I think parent can still offer hir theories and preferences and alternatives that parent likes, and keep looking for the common preferences. parent might also need to question hir theories about how important the social acceptance is, do they really want child to be motivated by being socially acceptable or are there better moral theories to operate by, and does parent really believe that child will become an inveterate table-stander in all places and situations, and how can parent and child communicate about the difference between standing on the table at home when there is nothing on the table to harm or to harm child, and, say, at grandma's or at a restaurant or the library. They could have lots of fun imitating what they think the reactions of grandma and the librarian and so on would be. Lots of good information and learning to be had, for both parent and child.
Likewise, there are lots of ways for families to figure out how to get enough sleep and to get baths, without hurting anyone. Getting more information about germs and exactly what the realistic risks are and how others manage to get enough sleep when their children are small and have various preferences that were not what parents had expected is very helpful in evaluating one's theories. The internet is an invaluable source of information, we are very fortunate to add it to our arsenal of information sources.
People who respect their own and other's autonomy are apt to find/create jobs that they want to do. If a person takes a job with a full understanding of what is required and are willing to do what it takes, they will be doing what they want. It is possible to want something, even though parts of it are difficult or unpleasant. A person can find a way to make even those parts of a task or experience acceptable to their self.
Out of time, for now.