We believe that art is not a separate discipline from just plain living. Just as you wouldn’t break the fun by saying, “This is a lesson about language arts” each time you sing the Alphabet song or read a book, so too we hope you can treat the suggestions in this website as part of your daily interplay with your child. These conversations should feel like extensions of their play, not a new agenda. If the conversations feel natural – introduced and abandoned with ease, children will begin to assume that discussion of feelings and expression of feelings is what one talks about. They can happen anywhere, anytime. You can be a twosome or a foursome or … Just begin and enjoy.
Here are a few pointers:
Finding the moment.
Maybe it’s a quiet play moment, or one when your child is inviting you into the pretend. The mood should be easy. Once you have had a few of these conversations it will be easier to spot the opportunities.
Space & time.
These conversations can run anywhere from a couple of minutes to a long, deep dialogue. It is best if it is relatively quiet, somewhat private (even if the conversation is with a group). Car rides, setting the table, brushing teeth.
Introducing the topics with care.
Not because they are difficult to discuss. (They’re not. They’re fun.) It shouldn’t feel like a change in conversation but a part of a conversation.
The questions may seem simple. And it will flow naturally into more exploration. But remember that these simple questions can require real thought – especially as your children start to explore issues of individuality and belonging. One or two – then step away.
There’s no hurry. Sometimes a child will hear the question, wonder, then not answer. That’s okay. To fill in the gap, consider telling one of your stories related to the question. There’s learning – and connecting – in that too.
Conversation – not lesson.
Easy and safe.
Sometimes you may feel a little frustrated by what you are hearing. Ease is important. No judging.
There will be many tender moments. And you might find out a thing or two about yourself.