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It is parents, not children, who find it difficult to let a child take the next step, but we need to learn when to let go and let children fly!
Once upon a time, my major thoughts were about potty! I know it sounds crazy but any parent with a toddler would understand, trust me, really! I used to obsess about how to get this boy potty trained!
I wonder how we tend to get unnecessarily worked up about the child’s current stage and do not patiently wait for his age to take over certain developmental milestones? Why are we always in a hurry and why do we keep saying, “Hurry up, it’s getting late!“?
If you observe closely, sometimes we get late because of adults and not kids, and yet kids do not complain. As adults it is our responsibility to plan and provide the environment in such a manner that things tend to go smoothly and avoid any disappointments of getting late or missing something. Why should a child hurry all the time? Also, have we questioned ourselves what great harm it can cause if we do not say, “hurry up!“?
One day the boy was clearly getting late to school and still munching on his breakfast. When I said, “Hurry up, you are getting late to school. I will pack the remaining breakfast and you can have it on the way,” he started crying. I pondered for a bit and then said, “See mumma got late today, I could not finish things fast enough for you. Can I pack the remaining breakfast?” He immediately agreed and proceeded to get his school bag.
If we observe, children would never intentionally get things delayed as their sense of time is not great. They are either in their dreamy world or do things at their pace, but never with an intention to cause delay. We have chosen our jobs with certain timings and we have chosen their schools with certain timings. Clearly the child had no role in this, isn’t it? I have learnt it the hard way, but even today, I still end up biting my tongue for saying, “Hurry up!” during busy mornings when things are getting delayed! Long way to go for sure!
My dear about-to-be six year old darling sleeps in his own room. When did he grow up, I wonder?! From the time I can remember his hands would always be buried inside my neckline when he fell asleep. Those little hands used to find my neck as soon as he became drowsy, the tiny head sometimes would be make a free fall and eventually lands on my lips, bruising them badly. And then there were times when he used to hit me and hubby alternately, because the sun was shining and he expected it to be dark by the time he woke up! Sometimes early mornings used to be the most chaotic with full blown tantrums just because I was not beside him when he woke up. Ah, the childhood stories of bedtime!
Now I get to sleep with no one bothering me. I have more space to roll and can sleep peacefully with no one hitting me or pushing me. Strangely, now is the time I find it more hard to sleep. I miss those cuddles, silly fights and sweet smelling baby cheeks!
We never really tried putting him to bed in his own room. Never had an agenda on how we were going to do it. Though I was left with very little space to sleep on the bed with this little guy, I restrained my complaints. Could be because, deep down I knew this phase is short lived. I have a peculiar tendency of feeling sad for future things. In fact, once I cried on the last day of my vacation because it was getting over, rather than be happy and relish the moment that I was still on vacation! Back to the topic, I knew that I would miss him by my side once he was all grown up and on his own. So how did the transition happen without having to struggle or plan for his new sleeping arrangements?
Hubby had asked him if he would like to sleep in his own room on few random occasions. Outright he replied no, and used to snuggle down beside me! When we were on a Europe trip last year, we opted to stay in home-stays and many families had actually arranged separate bedding for him. The little one somehow got excited at this idea and said, “I want to sleep here.” Bingo! He started liking it and as the trip was for more than a month, he got enough time to practice this new ritual of sleeping in his own space. Reflecting back, I sometimes feel that a new practice came free with the Europe trip!
Once we were back in India, we asked him if he would like to sleep alone and he bought the idea. He started happily sleeping separately, touch-wood, but it was tough on me. For the initial few nights, I struggled to get some sleep. I missed him so much and hated having more than half the bed just to myself! However I had to park all my worries on some unknown attic because the point is, he is ready to do it. It is a developmental milestone like any other activity, or for that matter, that potty training! I also wonder, maybe I enjoyed the cuddles, and that is why I never said, “Hurry up, you are big enough to sleep separately!” See how we adjust things in our favor!
We removed the supporting wheels for his bicycle. We tried teaching him how to ride and tried to encourage him to take out his cycle often so he could learn how to ride without the supporting wheels. He would always find some reason to not do it or postpone it. After some days we stopped asking him. One day, the neighbor’s child was going to meet a friend and was ready to go on his cycle. My boy got excited and asked me if he too can go on his cycle to meet this friend. I said yes instantly and learning to ride his cycle became a thing of the past. He started peddling and there was no looking back! He was ready to take a chance and I was ready to let him go once he got ready.
We often learn things well when we are ready to take risks, because taking a risk comes from self-motivation and nothing else can beat that. During this process, the learning is long lasting and also builds self-confidence of being able to achieve something on your own.
So the next tine when your child asks you that he/she wants to do something new, think of the worst possibility that could happen. As an adult you will be able to estimate the worth of taking such risks. When my child starts climbing on the outer side of a convoluted tube slide, I feel jittery. I would be confused – whether to ask him to get down or let him try and figure out what he wants to do and learn in the process? What would you do if you were in my situation? If he falls, he might get hurt, but how bad that could be? Is it going to be just a scratch or a major wound? Can you let him climb and stay nearby so you catch him just in case? Next time around, think about it before you say, “That’s not the way to do it!”
When I went to pick up the boy from his school, I asked him if he has finished his lunch. Pat came the reply, “Yes mumma, I finished, but do not open my lunch box now to check it.” I was taken aback! See where this is coming from? I figured that he wants me to trust him completely and this is a good situation to take a chance with, to build the trust. I stopped checking his lunch box and he started telling me as and when some portion is left.
Whether it is sleeping alone, climbing new structures, learning how to cycle or simple day to day matters, be open to receive the cues from the child when he is ready. When he is ready, chances are, he is utmost willing to take a risk and out come the most important life lessons. These are needed to build trust in others and confidence in self. Happy parenting!
Published here earlier.
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