The much anticipated "lighter" schedule of summer has become a busy array of playground adventures, swim lessons, family visits, and unstructured play. It is not surprising that the summer months have also been seemingly full of accomplishments and milestones, yet this year it is more apparent than ever just how important it is to let our children discover themselves and create meaningful moments of success with minimal parental influence.
From the time children are born parents see their a piece of their role defined as coach and teacher. This plays out through the toys we purchase, opportunities we seek out (such as a music class), and encouragement we provide on an ongoing basis. We want our children feel the power of accomplishment, understand that practice matters, and discover their passions. Yet, in the early years so much of what our children experience is dependent on their environment, including the adults they are surrounded by.
A perfect example of this lies in the milestone of learning to ride a bike. We purchased Big A his first tricycle for his second birthday, and with guidance and practice he learned how to ride the trike with strength and purpose. By the age of three and a half he was taller and eager to learn how to ride a 'big boy bike' so a two-wheeler with training wheels was purchased. The initial excitement for the new bike wavered a little as there was some slight intimidation over the idea of going faster, using the breaks, and the fact that the bike "wobbled" a bit with the training wheels. We used the same encouragement and guidance employed when we helped Big A learn to ride the tricycle, yet our support was not met with the same success...at least not at first.
After taking almost a year to walk with the new bike and try it out on occasion, Big A walked out of the garage one day with the *new* bike in hand exclaiming, "Mommy, I am going to ride my big boy bike today!" Despite being caught off guard by this surprising enthusiasm I jumped up with excitement and shouted back, "Great idea!" Upon mounting the bike Big A looked to the road ahead with determination and pedaled forward as though he had been riding the bike for years. The smile on his face was priceless and his enthusiasm over this accomplishment is a moment I want to savor for eternity. It may have taken almost a year for this moment, but as one would have it, he has asked to ride the bike just about every day since.
As I stood watching my now four and a half year-old ride away from me I was reminded of how it is not only about the coaching and encouragement, but having the patience to allow our children to trust themselves in a new situation. It would have been easy to focus on the fact that we purchased a bike that sat idle in the garage for months or to push him harder to ride it because we knew he could do it, but no matter how ready we believe our children to be for a new skill or milestone it is knowing when to wait for them to find their moment. Sometimes knowing your child is to recognize when not to push and allowing them to decide when they are ready.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com