Do you feel like you’re always in a hurry, rushing your kids around? Have you ever stopped and wondered how this affects your child?
I was recently walking through a park, when I noticed a grandmother with her young granddaughter. They had stopped and were looking at a blue heron sitting in a pond. The grandmother was crouched down and softly explaining to the toddler what was happening. “See how still he is. He’s looking for fish,” she told her granddaughter. The toddler was mesmerized by the whole experience. And I was transfixed by how wonderful this interaction was.
This encounter made me think back to when my kids were younger. I wondered how often I let them enjoy what was happening before their eyes—being in the moment. Would I have taken their hand and rushed them past this graceful bird, without even noticing it? Probably.
Young children are by nature explorers, they learn from the world around them. When we constantly hurry them along, we’re denying them the learning opportunity they crave. We also deny ourselves a chance to slow down and experience life through a different perspective.
Sometimes ‘slowing down’ is easier said than done. We live a hurried life, with necessary commitments such as work and school. We’re also responsible for teaching our kids basic punctuality and organizational skills. But are we overdoing it? Can we balance a hectic lifestyle with opportunities to dawdle, play and learn at a slower pace?
I was faced with the decision to find more balance years ago. Like most parents with young kids, I struggled to get out the door on time. One morning, as I was trying to hustle the kids out the door, my four year old made the big announcement “Mommy, I want to show you how I can tie my shoes.” My heart sank as I knew this was going to make me late. I tried to feign interest, but my mind wasn’t in the moment. As he sat quietly concentrating on this important task, my son must have sensed my worry. He looked up at me and said “Am I making you late?” I felt terrible. I couldn’t get over the feeling that this was one of those lost opportunities. Was my urgency to get out the door more important than my son’s natural inclination to “do it myself”? This was a wake-up call to my rushed mindset. In the end, I decided to put my hurried life on hold and watch my son beam with pride as he tied his shoes by himself.
Whether it’s shortening your ‘to do’ list, leaving more time to get to appointments or scheduling unstructured time, I challenge you to slow down and stop rushing your kids. Allow them to play, to use their imagination, to ask questions—to learn. The benefits will be immeasurable for both you and your children.
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