Monday, February 24, 2014

The Pause

We once asked my mother-in-law if her pregnancies were indicative of her son's personalities. She said no and instead explained that their personalities were more reflective of their births (her data pool includes three boys). 

I have no idea if Henry's 45-hour birth is linked to his behavior, but he definitely takes his time. He takes his time getting into the car and out of the car. He takes his time when washing his hands or getting dressed. 

His deliberateness and propensity to pause and look at things can rub up against my innate urgency. I have to intentionally create wide-open space for us to interact. I try not to take him on too many errands and instead carve out time to let him entirely direct our play. He tells me where to sit in the "airplane" or the "tent" or the "paraglider" and I move there. Then he decides when we should have a roof over our heads. He decides when we should take our shoes off and when we should use building blocks as "phones." We don't spend all our time together this way. I also do my own thing (usually cleaning) so that he gets practice with playing independently. And sometimes when he's directing our play I let him know if I don't want to do something or don't want to play in a particular way so he gets used to playing with people who have different opinions.

But I need to do better in all the other moments. I find myself jumping to tell him to do something, even though he is often just about to do it. 

For example, I've been trying to do more practical life with him, so I asked him to load up the dishwasher and put in the soap. As he was putting the soap away, I was about to say, "Remember to put the cap back on." But instead I kept myself silent. And sure enough, he noticed that the cap wasn't on and rectified the situation himself without any prompting. 

I've been trying to do this kind of pausing more and more. Before I say, "Remember to get your lunchbox and jacket out of the car," I just pause and wait to see if he does it himself. About 75% of the time he independently does whatever I was just about to remind him to do. I would be undermining the development of his sense of self and his confidence and the development of his personal responsibility and his critical thinking if I jumped in every time. 

When he forgets to do something even after I've given him a lengthy pause, I try to have the least invasive response possible. For example, if he forgets to close the car door (after he's remembered his lunch and his jacket), I simply stay by the car and say, "Henry, I notice something." It gives him a chance to self-reflect and self-correct before I say more.

It's a work in progress but it's fun working on it.

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Sarah said...

Nice! I need to do this more myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I definitely need to to do this more with my son. I also had a really long labor with him and I've noticed he tends to take his time with most things. I really need to make more of an effort to just slow down myself and learn to work around this rather than getting frustrated. I'm interested in seeing my daughter's personality develop considering how different their births were.

Ashley Sjuts said...

I love your posts like this. So helpful for me because I can tend to be a helicopter parent. Always hovering and voicing warnings or commands. Also I wanted to tell you that I FINALLY got a little table and chairs for my daughter to eat at and she absolutely loves it (this is an idea I got from you) She is almost 2 and the sense of accomplishment she gets from sitting like a big girl, clearing up her mess, is so great. I wish I had the funds to do this sooner but luckily we found our set for free! Happenstance! I hope you keep posting little posts like this with great reminders of how independent our littles can be if we give them the time and space to do it!

jduda said...

thanks for this! I need to do this more.

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