This past Sunday, we had a family swim party for our granddaughter. Our one-year-old grandson was experiencing the swimming pool for the first time with the entire family. I watched as he splashed, smiled, and then pulled back with apprehension because he wasn’t sure what he could or could not do safely.
It took a couple of hours for him to become comfortable. If we had pushed the process, he would have become very fearful; but with time, he grew more and more relaxed and even dunked his face in the water before the end of the day. It was nice to watch the process, and I admired his mom as she patiently allowed him to experience the pool as he desired. Of course, everyone wanted to hold him, take him for a swim, and show him a good time … but it wasn’t about us. It was about allowing him the time and space to experience what was positive for him.
There are some things you simply cannot rush, and I thought about how difficult it is sometimes to use restraint and allow children the time and space to do what is best for them. Children cannot be hurried through life. They need the opportunity to process, to observe, to think, and to make their own assumptions.
Parenting is typically inconvenient and rarely fits nicely into what we would like to do. However, if we are going to allow our children to explore in a safe and secure environment, we must often put aside our own desires and focus on what is best for them. Too often I witness parents who are in a hurry, pushing their child too fast to excel, or worried about what other people might think of them rather than what is truly needed for their child. I understand the pressures that parents feel; but allowing each child to develop at his own rate is always the right decision, no matter what other children seem to accomplish around them.
Dr. Bruce Perry speaks of discovery:
Children are such curious creatures. They explore, question, and wonder, and by doing so, learn. From the moment of birth, likely even before, humans are drawn to new things. When we are curious about something new, we want to explore it. And while exploring we discover. By turning the light switch on and off over and over again, the toddler is learning about cause and effect. By pouring water into a dozen different-shaped containers and on the floor and over clothes, the 4-year-old is learning pre-concepts of mass and volume. A child discovers the sweetness of chocolate, the bitterness of lemon, the heat of the radiator, and the cold of ice.
Time is a beautiful gift. Refuse to rush your child through life and carefully guard her through discovery time. Discovery builds her self-confidence and is her way of learning. Joining her in her journey will be therapeutic and refreshing for you, so sit back and enjoy!