Monday, December 13, 2010


There is a lot of talk of trust in unschooling circles-particularly in the radical unschooling ones-which is awesome. We should trust our kids, I absolutely agree with this-but with how much? It seems that parents being able to trust their instincts is often overlooked and we might ask too much of our children.

Some parents trust their children and may even trust an author or a forum before they will trust themselves. I read and see a lot of parents trusting their instincts less in the name of trusting their children more. Is this a good thing? I'm not sure that it is.

I know this is going to be controversial to some but there is probably good reason you feel awfully uncomfortable as you try and trust your child to self regulate things that we as adults can struggle with. The two most controversial and debated over topics on radical unschooling chat, forums and blogs is probably television and food. It seems to be the "last hurdle" for many to let go of before being able to call themselves radical unschoolers. I've had many chats with other parents who feel so torn with these particular subjects, they feel like their gut is telling them one thing yet by trusting their instincts they are not trusting their child.

For many the argument is things that are natural to children such as sleep, play, learning, exploring and real food are easily trusted in the hands of their children. Things that are not natural to their children such as television, computers (inc games) and processed food are designed to be addictive and by asking our children to self regulate we are asking too much. This does not always mean blanket bans but when a parent gets that feeling in their gut that their child is having trouble self regulating then they can step in.

So do we trust these feelings or do we try and work through them? Are we asking too much? Do we not give our children enough credit?

I don't think it has to be all or nothing. It's good grow and learn as a parent but I think, and it's just my opinion, that it's OK to trust yourself as well. Thoughts?

I'm joining in with Unschool Monday with Owlet.


Garden Pheenix said...

I agree with you. We're simply able to be more informed and but use this advantage to guide our kidlets. I find one way to regulate food is to simply annihiliate access to the stuff that is super unhealthy. At home I only stock up on good stuff and then trust her with what she decides to eat of that stuff. She doesn't even know places like McDs exist and when she wants junk food I make homemade pizza. Same with Telly. We just don't have one. Stock movies and DVD sets of good quality stuff and let em decide which they like.

I don't like the concept of leaving all decisions about a child up to the child. It is, as you said, about learning and giving guidance and while eventually it's good to leave the daily decisions go when they are older, the wee ones need quite a bit of boundaries and guidance.

But then again I also don't unschool bedtime. Child needs her sleep and over tired children don't realize what they need is sleep. Mumma has rulez lol. <3

Sif said...

I still don't get how to "qualify" as a radical unschooler you have to be willing to let you child get hooked on manmade addictive practices and substances such as television viewing and highly processed foods and drinks?

That said, I csll myself a radical unschooler because when
my child asked to go to school, I let him - I wonder how many radical unschoolers would do the same?

Is "radical unschooling" just a euphemism for "radical non-regulation"? Ie schools regulate, so we'll refer to "schooling" as shorthand for regulation, and then we'll add an "un" to signify we in no way emulate schools in a y part of our parenting. Coz really, unschooling is purely patenting, right, so radical unschooling (radical parenting) somehow means parenting without regulation, right?

bek said...

The parent should definitely trust themselves, but I think do need to work through in the sense of is that gut feeling they're having because they're aware the child may be struggling with the self regulation thing or is it that misplaced societal myth that children need to be controlled and told what to do or they just won't/can't do it stealing in and creating self doubt etc.

My thoughts having no problems with children self regulating everything from computer games to tv to food so far :) (they actually do better than me in the computer department, embarrassingly :P)

Amy said...

I'm with you on trusting yourself - and working through your stuff so you really can trust yourself and your children. :o)

My husband and I are having a conversation about TV and there are so many variables influencing the limits we provide. Choices are available for the children at all times, even though they may or may not like them.

What I've found in parenting is the journey of undoing who we think we are (and who we thought we needed to be for our parents, families, friends), realization of who we really are - and living from that realization... which includes some boundaries. Loving boundaries. That's radical to me.

And it's real.


Lauren said...

Yep, I completely agree too. I have one child who just cannot self regulate when it comes to screen based stuff. When I am otherwise occupied and not focussing all my attention on her, she wants to watch constantly... so at the moment with a new baby in the house, we have fallen into a bad pattern. I need to step in or she ends up extremely grumpy and unable to sleep after a day of very little activity. My other child self regulates happily, and would love to spend more time playing with her sister. We try and get some sort of rhythm happening in our days so everyone gets time doing what they need to, when they need to.

shae said...

Thanks for all your comments :) I love hearing other takes on this.

Killiecrankie Farm said...

Laurens kiddos are much like mine, and I find I manage each child differently. Self regulation seems to go out the door when they are really tired.
I have noticed that my second child, the previous TV addict, now regulates better, finding more fun things to do - by herself and with others. It's great, but has needed consistancy in redirecting and pushing (phew!), made easier by the youngest getting more independant.

Rachael said...

I get the idea of self regulation and think it works great for some things and some kids.

Acquiring the ability to self regulate is a process I believe, and we can give our children more and more opportunities to do that, but as parents we also should recognise that all children are gong to be different. Some respond better to limits to others, and some infact absolutely need their parents to put limits in place.

I think it is very unfair and does an extreme disservice to our children to free range them to the point where we put all the responsibility on them to figure stuff out, including self regulation at a very young age.

I am much more at home with the idea of choice within limits. So for example I can put a range of nutritious food on the table that I know is safe for my child and they can choose what and how much to eat from that selection.

Anonymous said...

I agree with pretty much everyone else's comments, rather boringly!
We don't have a TV, but i don't limit DVD watching..some days that seems to be all K does, then he doesn't watch any more days on end...

With food - i buy the food, and K gets to choose from the selection - which is generally healthy...Nana came to visit last week, so we still have left over biscuits and what-not i wouldn't normally buy...but i'm trying not to make a big deal of them!

As a child, i was allowed to eat whatever i liked, and i ate a mars bar for breakfast every day until i was 18 or 19...i now eat a very healthy diet, but it took me a very long time to self-regulate sugar!

My own experience makes me question whether we can expect smaller kids to go for an apple when there's a cupboard full of crap! Our job is to make sure that there just isn't a cupboard full of crap - and let them choose from there.

Related Posts with Thumbnails