Quite simply, children need time. End of story. If more adults would honor this simply concept, our perception of children will take a positive turn. Time to be trained; time to get things done; time to learn; the list goes on.
Most adults get frustrated and label children with not-so-pleasing names, because of a misunderstanding of the time factor. Our adult sense tells us things need to be done fast. Impatience is disguised as time prudence. Everything has to be done within a twinkle of an eye. Horns get blared when the car doesn’t move at that very second the light turns green. The person in front of the teller at the bank teller cant finish fast enough, the waiter bringing our orders is wasting time. Subconsciously, we have placed those same unhealthy expectations on our children when it comes to time. We want them to be independent, but we get impatient when John takes too long tying his laces or Jane cant seem to get that dress zipped quick enough.
Let’s focus on 3 important ways children need time:
Children need time to build their confidence
Setting realistic time expectations can help build your child’s confidence. Giving a child appropriate (notice I didn’t say adequate; because adequate is relative) time to complete a task does a lot in building their confidence. My parenting motto is “parenting is about the child, not the parent.” With this in mind, when you give a child a task don’t rush them, set a realistic time budget. When you rush a child or stand over their head, it makes them feel uneasy and they are likely to fail at that task because they second guess themselves or become clumsy. Factor a little extra time into your getting ready program- a little extra time to tie those shoe laces, a little extra time to finish that meal, a little extra time to just be a child. Of course, time is not indefinite, so, if you must step in, do it in a way that honors the child’s effort and acknowledges their need of help.
Children need time to be trained
Many of us miss the sensitive time for training up our children and expect that they magically know the right thing to do. We get caught up in the “oh he’s just a baby” phase. In this phase everything is cute’ throwing things on the floor, playing with food, refusing to greet adults, even hitting! That’s not really the issue, the problem arises when you suddenly realize your child is now 13 and those things are no longer cute. You naturally expect more from your child but realize you failed to put in the time that child needed to be trained. Lets put it in perspective, for 13 years your child has been a certain way, it will logically take another 13 years to learn a new way to be. Of course, realistically that’s not ideal. So, train your child even when being silly is cute. Let your child know hitting mummy’s face is not acceptable even before they can speak. Afford your child the opportunity to clean up after himself even when he is only able to pick up one grain of rice. It’s not about perfection instead it’s laying a foundation for responsibility. When your child drops something on the floor and says “uh oh” its cute I know, but amidst the cuteness, let them know “uh oh” means pick it up!
Children need time to learn
Imagine picking up a tray with your two pinkie fingers! It may be done eventually, but it will require practice. You can liken that to the way a child learns. Just because you’ve shown them once or twice or repeated the instruction several times doesn’t mean the child will do it satisfactorily. Children need time to learn. They need to do things over and over till their brain masters it. As adults and caregivers, we need to be at peace with this. Each time your child does something wrong, let your correction sound like it’s first time you are telling them. Don’t let them hear the frustration in your voice or sense it in your actions. Correct with love because children don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.