Laughing at/laughing with

IMG_0330Here is a something I wrote awhile ago, but the topic came up again in one of my Parent Infant classes, so I thought I’d share it again..
I was recently with a group of toddlers and their parents when a couple toddlers had an exchange that was quite ‘cute’  we all chuckled, and the volume of our combined voices really shocked one toddler, who started crying, and the other toddler switched into ‘performance mode’; she started smiling up at all the adult faces with what looked like her ‘picture’ smile.  None of us meant to be so jarring, but there you are, we were.  It made me remember what one of my teachers from the Pikler Institute said last time I saw her: ‘Never laugh at a child.  It is disrespectful’
So I have been pondering this-along with what I know from Waldorf Early childhood education—that joy actually helps young children grow…
So this is where I am with it at this point—I would love to hear your comments!
Yes, we need to take toddlers seriously as they explore and learn about the world, but we don’t need to surround them with somber seriousness…. I have been thinking recently about the idea in Waldorf early childhood education that young children need to be in an atmosphere of joy.  A buoyant environment where adults are not dragged down by the weight of the world, or the seriousness of life.  Warmth and joy (along with a predictable regular rhythm of the day) are life giving and protective, and make children feel safe and free enough to grow and thrive.  So while it is true that we don’t want our little ones to feel like objects, or to need our approval, (extrinsic motivation) we do want to accompany them in the joy of discovery and the joy of life–we can laugh with them.
I keep trying to convey the pleasure every parent and teacher could feel while observing, appreciating and enjoying what the infant is doing. This attitude would change our educational climate from worry to joy. Can anybody argue about the benefits for a child who is appreciated and enjoyed for what she can do and does naturally? …I believe this issue is so basic, so important, that it cannot be overstated.” – Magda Gerber
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