This is a long list but there is a question at the end! Promise.
  1. Context: I recently started nannying for two little girls, we'll call them Anna (4) and Elsa (9) (names chosen by birth order, not personality).
  2. We had a fascinating day today.
  3. I did a very short meditation exercise with them, first time, to see if it would catch on.
    (Lying on the floor, with stuffed animal on tummy, breathing deeply so that animal goes up and down with each inhalation and exhalation. The toy provides a helpful focus, and helps them understand what they are supposed to do, by making it more visible.)
  4. For one minute.
    (Anna, 4, lasted all of 45 seconds.)
  5. Fast forward to post-lunch, the girls invent a game together.
  6. One of them lies on the sofa and pretends to sleep, with Anna's pacifier somewhere about her person.
  7. The other has to try and remove the pacifier without waking the baby. When the pacifier is taken away, the baby wakes up and wails.
  8. This game then evolved into Elsa, 9 attributing herself the role of baby, and Anna, 4, big sister. And I was maman.
    So role reversal.
  9. And this is where I really understood what was happening.
  10. They acted out all their sister drama, with roles switched.
  11. "Big Sister" ran around trying to "comfort" "Little Sister"...
    (That's a lot of quotation marks.)
  12. LS ran around escaping from said comfort, pacifier in mouth, emitting shrill noises.
  13. BS actually said the words 'c'est moi qui décide, parce que je suis grande!)
    (I'm in charge, because I'm the oldest!)
  14. And then LS, the "baby", suddenly started pretending she couldn't see us, and then showed up as policewoman and arrested us for 'abandoning a little baby'.
  15. She imposed a fine of 1000€ and bought a house with it, so she could live by herself.
  16. (Context: children of divorced parents, the little one is transitioning from frequent use of pacifier to occasional, on the understanding that Father Christmas will be taking it away when he comes, the oldest responds to stress by managing the behaviour of the little one, is very hard on both of them, and generally pretty tense).
    (Abandonment issues, at a wild guess. - The whole, "If I'd been good enough maman and papa would have stayed together" thing...) (Not that I want to imply ANYTHING against these parents or divorced parents in general. At all. Just the issues I'm seeing in the behaviour of these particular kids. The parents are great and are handling things really well.)
  17. So we had an entirely spontaneous and child-driven therapy session.
    Shock and awe. (I did not direct play at all.)
  18. At other points in the day Elsa asked me a couple of times about the meditation exercise, and when we got back from a fairly stressful outing (turns out Anna was too tired for the park... 😒), she asked if we could do it again. Because she felt stressed and wanted to relax.
    As did I.
  19. We ended up doing about an hour of yoga and meditation.
    Child style of course.
  20. We talked about how the body reacts to stress, how to relax, how other emotions can sometimes come up once we have relaxed... all that jazz.
  21. She loved it.
  22. Amazing how kids actually recognise what they need once it's presented to them.
  23. Yesterday we talked about how anger is ok, as long as we're not hurting other people.
    This involved an extended pillow-bashing session.
  24. So anyway, my question, as promised.
  25. I know they each need to be supported in developing an ego/separate self.
  26. But how does one go about that whilst maintaining adult authority, not letting them get away with poor behaviour, and curbing the ugly tendencies that go with the child ego (MINE, I WIN, I'M THE BEST, YOU SUCK, NON NON NON, and so on)?
  27. But I would love some recommendations for grownup reading on the subject, and any suggestions, thoughts, advice you may have!
  28. Parents, nannies, therapists, teachers!
  29. Please tag other parents/carers/thinkers in the comments.
  30. And merci beaucoup à tous!
  31. (Is there seriously no Eiffel Tower or baguette emoji?!)