When we become parents, we consider how it will impact our lives, we plan for what we will need; a car seat, clothes, bottles, a cot, a nursery, a pram; the list is endless…
When our baby is handed to us we hold them like they are the most precious jewel in the world. We stare at the fontanelle moving up and down; reminding us how vulnerable they are. We settle in to our routine and raise our babies and toddlers using every book and shred of advice available to us. We prepare them for life in school and then suddenly they are gone.
It is natural at this point to feel like we lose our babies as they are with others for most of their day. We need to remember that every interaction they have impacts on them and it is our job to help them process life and openly talk about it.
Encouraging communication is the most important thing a parent can do but not as part of an interrogation over dinner. The best listener never provides the answers but merely questions what is being said.
At Northern Arts Factory, we are not experts in mental health but we have witnessed how children’s confidence and self belief can develop over time. We give children space to experiment and get things wrong, asking them questions, listening to the answers and nurturing creativity. We devise performances, experimenting through dance and drama with a positive outlook creating work we are all proud of. We do not seek perfection, we reward effort and learning through experience; our mantra is ‘If it goes wrong Carry On!’
As parents, our job is to create spaces where dialogue can happen. Some days it will and some days it won’t but if we are consistent in providing that space our child will always know they have our undivided attention at that time. It’s easy to say we spend lots of time with our children, particularly in lockdown because we are together 24/7 and we all need a break! But planned time is special, gives our children a voice and makes them feel valued.
We need to create the space to talk uninterrupted with our children and really listen. This might feel like too much at the moment but it is all important for our babies in these strange times, regardless of age! This might be five minutes checking in every day, a walk/cycle at lunch or it might be a chat at bedtime but we need to make sure we are listening.
Our children’s mental health is still as vulnerable as that fontanelle was the moment we first held them. It is the most precious thing we can nurture as parents and teachers. Here at Northern Arts Factory look forward to providing that safe space to build confidence and nurture creativity when we can reopen.
In the words of the late, great Captain Tom we should all ‘walk and talk to each other’
Are we listening to our children ?
It’s our job to find the time.
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