Adults need to slow down!
Young children can be independent and adults’ interactions with them can have a massive difference in how a child’s independence can be encouraged or inhibited.
Children conceptualize time differently than adults. The younger they are, the slower time feels. Adults, especially in today’s world, tend to be in a rush to try and complete tasks quickly and efficiently to get through their daily lists. When a child is taking too long in an adult’s eyes, it can be tempting for parents to do tasks for them or try to hurry their child. Children need to be given enough time to complete tasks independently to build their self-esteem and confidence. Instead of trying to speed them up, slow yourself down and see the world through your child’s perspective.
“The essence of Independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be. Such experience is not just play… it is work he must do in order to grow up” – Maria Montessori
We can help children, to help themselves, by slowing everything down and allowing them this time, without interrupting, so they can learn to concentrate on tasks which are purposeful and important to them. We can observe our children to see which activities they want to try for themselves and problem-solve. Activities of everyday living, such as dressing themselves, brushing their teeth, cleaning, or preparing their snacks are perfect for children to build their independence and concentration on tasks.
To support your child at home, here are some ideas:
Presenting a new activity – slow down enough so that you are not talking and demonstrating at the same time. Model how to do something slowly without talking.
Focus on one skill at a time, for example, if you are showing a child how to help with the dishes, they can dry them first, and then progress on washing them as well.
Observe them – you can learn so much by watching them and seeing which skills they are ready to learn and need to be given time to try.
Language – speak to your child at their level and have slow and meaningful conversations and listen carefully.
Movement – When working with your child, only do one thing at a time so they can watch or even participate.
Order – Have orderly daily routines in place which follow a predictable sequence that allow time for a child to be indepen
Transitions – Tell your child ahead of time when you are going somewhere or going to do something different. When they know what to expect, they are more likely to go along with the change.
Senses – give time for your child to explore the world with their senses. Examples are, smelling and touching food carefully before tasting, it and going on mindful walks where you slow down and use your senses to absorb the world around us.
“If the idea of the universe is presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying.” – Maria Montessori