Last night around 11 pm as my 5 month old daughter whined and reached out to me to help her sit up as I was just about to change her diaper, I thought to myself “Oh my goodness, I just want to change her diaper and get back to bed! If she plays now she won’t go back to sleep!” I took a breath, looked at my sweet child, and helped her sit up. It is a new skill. She has just started sitting up on her own.
She was thrilled. She sat up, played with the box of wipes, revered in her new ability, and in a few minutes I gently helped her lay back again and changed her diaper. No tears, no screaming, no fight. This is something new we’ve been practicing. I like to call it “not killing the learning”.
I find that learning comes at extremely unpredictable times. Often it happens when I as a parent think my child should be sleeping, or running out the door, or getting dressed, or doing other IMPORTANT things. I realized when my daughter was very young that if we were going to be peaceful parents, and if we were going to succeed in homeschooling her, I would have to practice not killing the learning.
After the diaper experience, I thought to myself “That wasn’t so bad. Letting her play cost me nothing and gave her so much joy, so much happiness, and we didn’t fight.” In fact, it brought us closer, because as I chose to help her sit up, I was connecting to my baby. I was saying, “I will help you do what you want to do. I will help you learn. I won’t force you to be on my schedule.”
If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “she is nuts, this will never work for my family, we are busy” think again. I am busy too, and we don’t ALWAYS have the chance to let our kids choose, but when we can, we do. When it’s a question of safety, or something BIG, we have to be parents and choose for our kids. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you can take the time to let your kids learn, even if it inconveniences you when you can, they will be much more forgiving of the times that you truly need them to hurry.
Once I began practicing this, I found that the times when I truly couldn’t stop and take a minute to let my child learn were rare and usually safety related. Those times I don’t feel bad about rushing her, because I know that it is truly necessary. I believe as she gets older she too will appreciate these times and listen more closely if they aren’t too often. If I always yell at her, she may not hear me when I need to yell something truly important.
Parents of older children, teenagers, even adults can make the choice to stop rushing, stop yelling and not kill the learning. We were fortunate enough to jump on the gentle parenting bandwagon pretty early, but it can be done at any age. I have seen this work in my relationship too. When I don’t rush my partner, he is happier. When I let him take the time he needs, we have a better relationship. When I do rush him or yell at him or over plan our time together, we fight more.
Good luck friends, and let me know how it goes.