The boy who shares my life was going to school one day, and as we were leaving he told me that a little boy who I shall name Timothy was being put in a naughty chair “all of the time”. When I asked what naughty meant he said it meant he was not being nice, when I asked how he said he wasn’t sitting as the teacher wanted him to, and pushed, hit and hurt other children. I just felt very sad for Timothy because for a boy of his age 5-6 years to be wanting to hurt other children he must be feeling hurt himself, frustrated, misunderstood even. And to be punished for that just doesn’t seem fair.
I understand that it is not appropriate to hurt other people but I thought it could be handled differently, and singling him out and sitting him in a naughty chair must just compound his ill feelings towards himself and others.
I thought about if I met Timothy, what I could say to him to make him feel better – all I could think is that he would want to feel understood. I thought about what I would say to him, and then I realised it was what I would have wanted someone to say to me.
I can remember being may be 7 years old and playing hopscotch. This friend of mine was playing really excitedly and freely and I got really irritated and angry, may be because I couldn’t play like that, and when she went to jump over me I purposefully tripped her up. I can remember how it felt, how satisfying it felt, how it healed some hurt or at least reduced it for a while. But I can also remember the shame I felt about feeling like that.
I would say something like: ”When I was at school I used to hurt other children and I didn’t want to do what the teachers wanted, do you know how that feels? I am so happy you understand, I always felt like no-one understood. And I hurt inside and that made me want to hurt other people. Do you know how that feels. That makes me feel better knowing someone else gets it. And you know, when the teachers or my mummy or daddy told me off, it just made me feel worse. It made me feel wrong but what I was feeling was right and perfectly normal. Do you know how that feels?”
And then I thought about the boy who shares my life and how I loose perspective and empathy with him. May be if I saw myself as him more it would allow me to respond to him more compassionately?