This morning my son and I scooted to school together – him on his scooter, me on mine. As we reach the busy main road, we wait together to cross and then chat happily for the rest of the way until parting company at the school gates. It was a calm, safe journey where he was regulated and content. On my way home, I celebrated this as a win – inwardly smiling at his confidence and the connection we shared.
Casting my mind back a year ago, I recall a school run where at the same busy main road, he hadn’t responded to my instruction to wait and pushed out into the road on his scooter. I put my arm out to keep him safe. Eventually we crossed safely and made it to school. Reflecting back there was a distinct lack of safety and perhaps even a ‘disconnect’ in our relationship.
When I spoke about this incident in an NVR session, our practitioner suggested we might consider our son not using his scooter for a while until we knew he was listening and could be safe. At the time, I reacted strongly to this idea and had objections. ‘He loves his scooter, he will react badly, there will be repercussions, this will make things worse than they already are and how will I know when it’s OK to use his scooter again!’
I had to sit with my reluctance, anxiety and fear, though ultimately, I knew the scooter needed to be off limits for a while. So, as we headed out to school the following day, I told my son we wouldn’t use his scooter until I could be sure he was safe and listening. Instead, we would walk. It took an inner leap of faith. I didn’t want it to be a harsh boundary, rather a firm compassionate instruction given from a place of connection. To my surprise my fears were unfounded as he didn’t react or object. In fact, he seemed content, even safer for knowing there was a limit and for now, we’d be walking to school.
His positive response challenged my notion of how and when he feels safe with me. As a parent who had, at times, found herself treading on eggshells around frequent escalations and violence, I was perhaps understandably reluctant to suggest something that might have brought more reaction. However, for him to feel safe he needed me to calmly bring a boundary and resist his unsafe behaviour.
It’s important to remember a limit doesn’t mean it’s a ‘never’, just a ‘not now’. Several weeks later, we return to the scooter and it felt better, safer and more stable. The opportunity to be trusted again allowed our son to grow, regulate and for his confidence to flourish.
NVR Mum – Hampshire