As mentioned in the blog of May 22, 2014, developing the voice of the "inside helper" needs encouragement. When the girls began cutting each others hair, hearing and paying attention to that little voice that says, “Uh–oh, better say no,” might have helped them make a wiser choice.
Those words were from a song taught to preschoolers by the former Children’s Self Help Project in San Francisco. While making their puppets years ago, I learned their songs. They explain to young children the three kinds of touches: "yes," "no," and "I don’t know." These touches are distinguished by paying attention to your "funny feelings." While the names differ, we each teach children the same lesson: to develop and listen to the inner voice that guides them. This skill will benefit them throughout their lives.
When my daughter was 5 years old, I worked with her in this area of intuition. I invented a game where she could choose a bus ride anywhere inside the city limits. (Riding public transportation in itself can be an exercise in listening to our instincts.)
I allowed her to choose the bus, direction and times when we would get on and off. The task was to pay attention to the impulses that would have her walking safely once off the bus. I wanted her to learn to trust the inner "yes" and move away from what she sensed as an inner "no."
As the adult, I would have the final say on her safety, but within that framework we’d begin our weekly adventures.
Her ability to navigate the city safely has carried over into her adult life. She has traveled to and worked in New York City and London. She has an adventurous spirit that I may not have taught her by example, but rather by teaching her to trust her own instincts.
Reflecting on how I might further develop that inner wise voice in children, I began thinking of the Expressive Arts Program. Children have many choices. They pick which materials they like, how to connect them, whether to plan ahead or allow the project to unfold spontaneously and at what point the project is complete.
Through this method, they learn more about what they prefer, what they can do well, what skills they need to improve and how they feel about what they create. They are also subtly "listening" to themselves all along the way. In doing so, they strengthen the inner voice, the inside helper, that guides them.
For the adults, this is a time for stepping back and staying only as close as necessary. It is a time to observe and feel the satisfaction of watching our children stand in their own power.
I have just returned from participating in my daughter’s beautiful London wedding. I am still reflecting on her evolution from birth through marriage with great enjoyment. Her early education helped build self-trust and confidence in her ability to make wise choices
Here’s a photo of the very happy and proud mother of the bride.