We live three hours away from any family members which means when we visit or they come to us it’s an event. There’s no ‘popping in’, the children don’t really get a chance to just be with their grandparents without it always being about catching up and showing them all that they are and all they can do. And it’s exhausting. They are so shattered at the end of any visit and it takes at least a week of recovery.
Me and my husband talked this over one visit to his parents. We looked at what we could do to help our children as they were struggling and this was being presented as ‘difficult’ behaviour with lots of crying and upset.
What pressure was being put on them? What were they struggling with? After discussing it we realised it was mainly our fault. We were the ones constantly showing them off. Asking them to show Grandma this and tell Grandpa that. “Show Grandma your counting”, “Show us what you do at dancing”, “Tell Grandma what you like to do in the garden”. No wonder they were so tired and cranky and not acting like themselves, we were making them little performers.
I’ve recently read this blog post called ‘Montessori and testing: why we keep asking “what colour is this?” And other questions to test our child?’ which rammed this home even more. How we are, as parents, constantly testing our children and what to do instead.
As a unit we are definitely going to try and stop doing this both on visits and also just at home generally. Stop asking “what’s this” all the time as I’ve been feeling slightly panicky when Alice says “I don’t know” to every question I ask. It’s no wonder she seems to dislike answering all the questions. The post suggests observing, playing games and teaching to asses where they are at instead of asking all the time.
It is hard though. As parents we want to show off our children, show parents, grandparents and friends what they’ve learnt, what they can do. But they will show all of this without our barraging of performance requests. If they are less pressured they will spontaneously count, dance, sing, read and name colours without us asking and be more relaxed about doing it.
Just let them be.