They’ll Do It When They’re Good and Ready
I often find myself thinking about milestones; targets we expect to be reached at certain times of our life. We get so hung up on having achieved certain things by a certain time in our life and this is particularly true of our little people. Do they weigh enough? Are they on solids yet? Are they walking? Are they talking? Are they using the toilet independently? Are they sharing? Are they making friends? Are they counting to 100? Can they write their name…? And so it goes on and on and on.
Absolutely all these things matter and in most cases they are achieved (I acknowledge that for some children these things may be more challenging) in good time for the next part of their lives, but in my experience they happen when the child is good and ready and not when the ‘internet’ says they should be.
When I was a child my mum decided to take me to swimming lessons (I can’t remember how old I was, but about 6 or 7) and she was very dedicated to the cause. Every Saturday morning we’d walk the half hour journey to the local swimming pool and she would watch me from the viewing area upstairs, behind glass, as I most definitely didn’t learn to swim! I was terrified of the water. For weeks and weeks the teacher (a wonderful, huge bearded man) would try to encourage me in, with coaxing and little splashing on my legs until he did eventually get me to take the plunge. He then spent months physically supporting me (it wouldn’t be allowed these days) in the water, hands under my stomach gliding me through the water. I was clearly very determined not to do this on my own.
Mr Williams did eventually get me to swim alone but it took many months and much determination from him and my mum. I’m grateful now to be a very strong swimmer, but I can’t help but wonder if my brain just wasn’t ready to take on that particular task at that time. I wonder what other development was going on right then that my brain thought was more important and so wouldn’t ‘switch on’ until it was ready?
We all put too much emphasis on ‘the next thing’ our child should be able to do and question what we’re doing wrong or worse still, why is this child being naughty, if it doesn’t happen to our agenda. We forget that this isn’t about us, it’s about the individual and unique child whose brain is working and growing at it’s own pace and all these milestones will come in their own time. Yes, we should be exposing them to great experiences and learning through play. Absolutely, we should be providing the scaffolding of great vocabulary and the tools to achieve key life skills and resilience… BUT we need to stop expecting them to achieve someone else’s ‘milestones’ or ‘national averages.
With the right input from us the ‘switches’ in their brain will flick on when the child is good and ready!