One day as I was scrolling through a social media feed I stumbled across a quote that said, “You cannot make a flower bloom faster by pulling it.” I felt like this was a statement that most people could easily agree with in terms of flowers; but how about applying the same idea to the child? Each child will bloom in his or her own time when their needs are properly met and without the use of force. This requires a certain level of trust in the child and their abilities.
When our son was born his feet turned in pretty severely. As a first time Dad, and eager to make his mark he was pretty persistent in wanting to teach our son to straighten his feet and push off. His reason being. . . “Well if he can crawl faster, then he can walk faster and be ahead.” Shamefully my response was a little less than kind at just two weeks post-partum, however the fact of the matter is that this is a very popular belief. We are lead to believe that faster and sooner are always better. Walk faster, read faster, sleep through the night sooner, the list goes on. When we take that stance, it’s easy to assume that the child needs specific direction, coaxing, or force in order to develop a skill that would otherwise emerge naturally in due time.
We can often feel the need to be in control, which leads to a lack of trust in the child, and a more adult centered approach. In some cases our need to instruct can be more of a hindrance than a help. During the Pikler® conference (mentioned in a previous post) we performed an experiential to better illustrate this concept. We were placed in pairs, and given a chair. One person was to act as the adult, and the other a child. On the first round the adult was asked to tell the child what to do in order to climb onto the chair. For the second round the child was supposed to climb onto the chair without specific instruction, and the adult was there for support and guidance if needed. After round one when asked how they felt, many people described the experience as being more challenging because they knew what needed to be done in order to accomplish the task but they began to feel nervous, scared, or second guess themselves based on the actions of the adult. When left to climb onto the chair on their own with the adult as an observer they stated that they felt more confident in their movements, relaxed, and knew that if they needed the help it was available. Both in the classroom and at home, this idea of natural development and blossoming serves as a reminder to trust in the ability of the child. As parents and caregivers we can help our children to blossom by supporting their needs at the moment verses pulling them towards where we feel they should be.
“Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished”- Lao Tzu
For more information on this methodology, feel free to check out the websites listed below: