“W.A.I.T.ing”: In their own time
I took my cautious 5 year-old son to a BMX track recently. He was keen to be there, but for the first few minutes he just stood and watched the other kids zipping around the track. I felt like calling out, “Go on mate”, but I kept my mouth shut. He then moved onto the track, but didn’t sit on the seat and take off. I felt like calling out, “You can do it”, but again I kept my mouth shut. He then proceeded to walk his bike slowly around the length of the track. As he was being passed by other kids, I felt like yelling out, “Just get on with it!”, but I kept my mouth shut. He then got on his seat and very slowly pedaled around the track, stopping frequently around every bend. And I just kept telling myself, “Keep your mouth shut, he’ll do it when he is ready”. When he looked my way, I gave him a thumbs up and smiled. Though what I felt like doing was yelling at him to hurry up and get going.
After he had slowly completed two circuits, he then went around the course not stopping. 15 minutes later he was haring around the course. It reminded me of the importance of W.A.I.T.ing when it comes to our children:
I could have said something, telling him what to do. But then rather than him working out what he wants to do, and doing it in his way, his mind would have instead have been filled with what I wanted him to do, and trying to do it in my way. And worse, rather than being free to discover and be playful with this new experience (the best way to learn a new thing), he could have felt judged by me and shamed by any slight mistake he made.
My child is not me. His way is not my way. When we were cycling home, I felt relief that I had said nothing and let him do it his way. My own anxiety about him being capable enough was just that…my own anxiety. By saying nothing and simply supporting him and accepting that he would do it in his way in his own time, he then did it his way and his success was his own.
There are of course times when things need to be said to a child, and when things need to be done in your time. But if you have the option and the time to say or not say something, a simple three-word slogan may help.
Watch (Try to take in the big picture)
W.A.I.T. (“Why Am I Talking?”), and
Wonder (The beginning of wisdom)