Listen, Learn, and Love - 3 Keys to Harmony

Dr. Joan's Advice

Date: 08/23/2014

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Children Need Space & Solitude

Dear Mom and Dad:

So your 11 year old daughter writes and illustrates stories about animals that talk. You’re worried she spends too much time fantasizing. She quit soccer and gave up piano. At school, she is a top student, has no behavior issues, and was elected chair of the safety committee. After school, she does homework and then goes to her room to work in what she calls her “personal volume.”

Here are points to ponder: Does your daughter have close friends her age? Does she engage in pre-teen social activities like texting, calling, and visiting with friends? Even though she quit soccer, does she get exercise with family and friends or even by herself?

If you answered “yes” to some or all of the points, then chances are your daughter is leading a stable life according to her standards. She feels secure in the way she divides her time between formal education, social exchange with friends and family, physical activity, and quiet solitude where her imagination can explore and expand.

Each of us has our own internal make-up. Parts of us may pull us one way or another as we develop and age. Your daughter is feeling a strong need to explore her creative mind and feelings and prefers to write and draw in the privacy of her room.

I want to quote Ursula Le Guin, prolific writer, now in her 80s, who grew up in the 30s and 40s. She was interviewed by Bridget Huber for an article in California Magazine, Spring 2013. Here’s an adaptation of part of their conversation:

Huber: I was struck by your description of teenage summers you spent wandering the hills alone. You said, “I think I started making my soul then.” Why are experiences like that important for kids?

Le Guin: It does seem that today’s children get little solitude. Things are provided to do at all times, and the homework is so much heavier than what we had. But the solitude, the big empty day with nothing in it where you have to make your day yourself, I do think that’s important for kids growing up. I’m not talking about loneliness. I’m talking about having the option of being alone.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Each child born needs space to grow and solitude to bring forth ideas.

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