Aletha Solter’s book, Tears and Tantrums, saved my life when I was a mother of preschoolers; well, it was one of the books that saved my life. I’ve been thinking about it, and wanted to share with you. If you Google her name you’ll find a website with a summary.
Books such as this one (also Kids Are Worth It by Barbara Coloroso, and Your Competent Child by Jesper Juul) I’m sure were helpful as I read them, but the concepts expressed in the titles were very nearly enough. They helped me parent my daughters, and they helped me to be a better teacher. I learned from reading parenting books that when a student is extremely upset, it’s best to nod your head and say, “You are really upset.” Reasoning with the student, asking them why they’re upset, none of that is immediately helpful. Listening to an upset student, really listening, is the best thing to do. When you argue with a student, it’s a lot like throwing a tantrum because your child is throwing a tantrum.
So these concepts have been immensely useful to me as a parent and (even more, as it’s difficult to be objective with one’s own children) with my students. (And not that I haven’t had bad moments with both.) I am now wondering what these insights could do to help me finish the revision of my novel.
I’m trying to let my characters wail. I’m trying to really listen.