Posted by Erin Boehme, Dandelions teacher
Can you remember a time when you felt mostly free?
You might think back to childhood, possibly a time when you were outside, on your own, far far away from all the adults? (or maybe in reality just in the backyard or field?)
Children need solitude just like adults. Solitude gifts us all the opportunity to process emotions, imagine new possibilities, reflect on our relationships with others, and in fact, solitude enhances our ability to feel empathy and improves our social skills.
Children need to "feel" alone, left to their own imagination, left to feel themselves, not under the supervision of an adult. This is a time they will feel truly free.
In this time, children will be experiencing emotions that they have no context to understand. They will be picking up on the adults sense of hyperawareness and the collective consciousness of anxiety, uncertainty and, significantly, grief. They are likely also feeling a sense of calm and joy in having their parents home with them all day, every day. All these changes are confusing, yet, with the gift of solitude, they can build the skills needed to process and cope with these emotions in a healthy way.
How do you give your child solitude?
- Be a model. Show your child that taking some time to yourself is to be respected and desired. Spend some time on your own, you might go on a walk, go to your sit spot or just be on the porch, just enjoy it, your child will understand.
-Allow your child to feel like they are wandering off in a safe space outdoors. You can behave as if your distracted and not watching them, but you can follow at a safe distance and tend them from afar. Avoid interacting with them. Allow them to "feel" alone. Trust them. Use your super stealth parent spy skills!
Spending time in their room alone, is good, but being outside is different....Why?
When we experience the sense of solitude outdoors, we are not alone. With the lack of stimulation from other humans, we pick up on the immense life that is all around us. We are capable of switching our awareness to the vast sky and the tiny ants. We find ourselves in the web of life. We find ourselves internally. This is where your child will really begin to know themselves.
Mother Earth is our home, she's bigger than anything we can touch, hold or feel. When emotions are bigger than we can hold, Mama Earth holds them for us. Out on the land is where we build those connections to empathy, trust, wonder, gratitude and the true nature of our purpose. We all know this, because we have each been overwhelmed at some point in our lives and have turned to the sky, the mountains, a bird, a plant, the sunset, the stars or the sea to guide us inward.
Children are connected beings, they need to stay connected. Giving them solitude in nature is one of the best parenting skills you can rely on. Let go of being a supervisor and become a ninja parent with super spy skills...you might find yourself in a state of solitude while your at it. ;)
At Wild Roots we are working to support families throughout this difficult time. If you find this content helpful, and have the means, please consider making a donation to help keep our school afloat. Thank you!
Wild Roots staff authors include Erin Boehme, Lia Grippo, CJ Cintas, Anne McCarthy, Tyler Starbard, Jenn Sepulveda, Heather Young, Amalia Smith Hale, Natalia Pareja...