I was thinking about children the other day … and how each one is created so differently than another. I used to own a daycare and all the children that I took under my wing were so different from one another: I had introverts, extroverts, high energy versus lower energy … yet all were amazing in their own way and had their own timetable of doing things.
One event I remember clearly was taking them on rainy (or snowy) days to McDonalds in the mornings to “run off their energy” after days of being cooped up in the house. The babies would love watching all the excitement around them while the toddlers would love climbing, jumping, etc., tiring themselves out for a nice afternoon nap.
I had two different kind of children though: I had those who rushed right in, could hardly get their shoes off fast enough before bolting into the play structure and I wouldn’t be able to coax them out for hours. Then, I had others who stayed right by my side, happily watching, maybe wanting to go in, but enjoying taking it all in before venturing forth cautiously to explore.
I would also observe other mothers in the group. Some would forcefully make their children go play, and the child would eventually go, crying and screaming the whole time. Other mothers would patiently encourage their children to go play, but if the child resisted, let them know it was fine, they could hang out with us until they were ready.
Overall, I tended to be that type of mother. I was fine with giving a child space, gently encouraging but not forcing, knowing that eventually the child would either want to explore when he/she was ready, but being okay with the fact it may never be something the child wanted to do.
The above observations are from over two decades ago, before I had children of my own. However, I’m realizing that all individuals (adults and children) react to situations similarly.
Eventually, if given enough gentle encouragement, children learn the basics they need to be fully functioning independent adults. Some children will rush into the experience, fully embracing all aspects of it and others may take a little longer. But the eventual goal will happen if approached in the way that best works with each individual child.
Everybody has their own comfort level and their own timetable. And each person’s timetable, whether fast or slow, should be okay. Something to think about …
Do you agree or disagree with my observations over the years? Are you someone who offers gentle encouragement or do you believe some children need a little more “pushing” in order to try something new? I’d love to hear your thoughts.