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Parenting through a 6 week lockdown certainly had its challenges. But the thing about challenges is that they often make us look at things in a new way or support us towards conscious parenting.

During lockdown, Ian and I learned to follow our children’s lead a lot more than we’re used to. It’s something that’s definitely in line with our parenting approach and builds their self-esteem.

Following Dom’s lead started with home learning. I wanted to be able to continue Dom’s learning during lockdown. But, I was anxious that I would do something that would cause Dom to develop a lifelong hatred of learning and school.

His teachers provided me with the curriculum and learning tools. At the same time, a lot of noise was being made about how schooling wasn’t critical… safety, comfort and connection were most important for our kids.

So, I followed Dom’s lead. He wanted a timetable like he had at school – I made one. He wanted whakamata (activity) stations like he has at school – I set them up each evening. If he asked for a break, I gave it to him.

I think that because he knew I’d listen to him if he needed to stop and do something different for a while, he was also more willing to listen to me. I was successful, more often than not, at encouraging him to complete his lessons.

Science has been another way I follow his lead. Dom wanted to make Rainbow Juice. So, he told me that Rainbow Juice is what you make when you blend lots of different coloured fruit. He wanted to know what would happen if you put salt on a cookie and fried it in butter. These were his ideas of science experiments. So, we did them. And here’s what I learned:

  • Letting Dom make the decisions really boosted his self esteem.
  • These ~science experiments were a great opportunity for Mum/Dom time.
  • Rainbow Juice is delicious!
  • Salted, fried chocolate chip cookies are also delicious (although far less healthy).

Encouraging our children to have a say in their own lives builds autonomy and self-esteem. I’ve always let me kids negotiate with me. If I say it’s bed time and they ask to stay up later, we discuss it. Often we agree to a late night on the weekend. I’ve found this hasn’t meant they ask for a later bedtime each night. They don’t abuse the privilege.

Our children are people. They deserve the right to have control over what goes on in their lives. We’re here to guide them and help them make the right decision, but we’re also here to help them grow into awesome adults and one way of doing it is letting them take the lead as frequently as possible.