Author :Jo Whitfield , for ‘Spot A Childcare’
One of the traps we can easily fall into as parents is that of trying to rush our children into things. We can’t help comparing them to other children, and fretting about what we think they should or shouldn’t be doing at their age or stage.
Here are some examples.
Learning to walk
There really is no need to “walk” your child while they hold onto your two hands. Left to their own devices, children have an uncanny way of learning to walk all on their own. Pulling themselves up on things, such as furniture, and coasting around, gives them the opportunity to really test out and practice their own skills.
My child didn’t take his first steps until he was 17 months old, and the pressure didn’t stop there. He still loved riding in his buggy, and wouldn’t walk very far at all. “You have to get him out of that buggy or he’ll never walk far”, I was repeatedly told. My husband and I, both keen hikers, were eager enough to ditch the buggy, but didn’t see the sense in making him walk to the shops if he was going to cry all the way there. Then one day it just happened. We set off on a hike, minus the buggy, and he walked all day, and loved it too. We just knew when he was ready. He’s been a great little hiker ever since.
Learning to climb
Similarly, helping your child up on climbing frames or trees is actually not very helpful at all. My rule of thumb; if they can’t get up there on their own, then they shouldn’t be up there. A child who has been lifted up to the top of a tower or frame gets no sense of achievement, and misses out on practicing their climbing skills, on learning about risk taking, and on learning about their own abilities and limits.
Learning to swim
Children are all so different. Some children jump into the pool with not a care in the world, before they can even swim. Others are terrified of putting their head underwater. But the thing is, they’ll get there in the end. Very few people retain a fear of getting their face wet into their adulthood! I can’t bear to see children being forced to go underwater against their will, or pushed into a swimming lesson in tears. If we want them to enjoy swimming and get over their fears we really do need to let them do this in their own time.
I like being in the pool myself anyway, so I kept my child out of swimming lessons until he had got over his fear, which he eventually did of course, without the need for any pressure from me. As a bonus, I got to spend lots of fun time playing and bonding with him in the pool, and was right there with him when he first started to swim on his own, which was a very special moment!
A classic. Lots of people advise not to rush this one. They’re right. Again, every child is different. Do not compare. Waiting that little bit longer could save a lot of mess and hassle. It really is counterproductive to try to force these things. Have faith in your child. Remember too that changes and disruptions in a child’s life, such as a new sibling or nursery, can cause a regression in toileting, so try not to worry if this happens. And don’t try to bribe them with rewards. If they can’t do it, they can’t do it. They may be pleased when they do succeed, but on the flip side, failure to gain the reward when they don’t will just make them feel bad, and this really won’t help. So resist the temptation. You’re not training a puppy. It’s normal to look forward to our children achieving a new milestone, but we need to give them space to learn to do things in their own time.
And remember, they’re only this little for such a short time – just enjoy this time and don’t waste it worrying about how fast they’re achieving things. They’ll be all grown up soon enough!