Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me
When you teach a child something, you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself. –Jean Piaget
The key to parenting is one thing. One simple thing. It’s the answer for every situation you’ll find yourself in: Wait. Just wait.
Well, I’m lying. There are 2 things parents need to know. Just two. Wait and love. With those two things, anything is possible.
It’s all doable. You’ve got your answer. Now you can stop reading! Imagine that, 2 paragraphs in and you’re an expert.
Well, hold on a second. I might be lying again. There are three things all parents, regardless of race, gender, class or creed need know about parenting. Only three things. Wait, love and, ahhh, who am I kidding…there are many many things. I’ll stop with the simple solutions now.
But back to waiting. Seriously, giving yourself a few seconds, maybe minutes, before you jump in with all your parenting feet is an incredible way to remain sane and practice being the parent you are proud of.
Another way to look at it is similar to the wisdom found in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey – management guru extraordinaire.
Habit Five: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. By waiting, you give yourself the space to suss out what is really going on. Is the crying baby hurt or does he just need to reach a little bit further to get the ball?
Waiting is uncommonly hard to do, yet it will give you the time to better understand what is needed. Do you need to reassure, do you need to help, do you need to comfort, do you need to let your child fail in order to learn… what will a waiting period give you? The space to fully get what the best course of action is.
Or, you can look at the wisdom of Pooh: (I once, in a woodworking class in grade school, carved this into wood for my Dad as a present)
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh,” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
Often, young children simply need to be sure of your presence in order to do what they need to do on their own. So give them that. And don’t hand them the ball. Watch them accomplish that on their own.
Here’s a remarkably great list of the benefits of waiting.
What’s your story? Do you have a need to intervene or are you a good “waiter”? I’m actually doing a reader survey on this to be included in an upcoming parenting book and I’d love to include a reader’s story! Do tell!!!
My story is pretty much captured in my pic above…this was right when our older daughter was getting comfortable with swimming solo.
You can see her, sussing, and her Dad essentially holding his breath. Then, here’s the very next shot. Imagine if we hadn’t waited to see what she would do.
And, just one more look at sheer satisfaction!
photo credit: ModernBaby