I have always been a believer in readiness in a sense that when children are ready – they will do it. Watching my own children has always confirmed this belief for me. When they are physically, emotionally and cognitively ready – they will crawl, they will walk, they will talk, they will read, they will ride a bike – even swim. They don’t need to be taught these things because when they are ready, they can confidently figure it out. It is with the lack of pressure that children can move forward with ease.
Many milestones have come for my two kids this summer. It seems the long, lazy days of summer have allowed them to find their groove and with that – their confidence. My son, at 6 ½ learned to ride a bike after showing no previous interest. One day he just got on and rode – beaming with pride. He rode his first wave on a body board after spending many years clinging to me in the ocean. Now he proudly dives into the bigger waves head first. He joined a soccer team (his choice) where he didn’t know a soul, he’s tried new foods after years of me quietly accepting his limited palette. This summer he has blossomed and it has shown me that all my hard work at practicing patience and stifling my urge “to show him” has paid off. I can finally say I am comfortable accepting his timetable.
My almost 4 year old daughter who has always loved the water, but has never wanted lessons, just jumped from the steps and swam to me one day. I gasped as she did it, but stayed still (and somewhat calm) until she surfaced and when she did, both of us were wide eyed as she exclaimed “Mama, I thought I could swim – AND I COULD!” Both of us laughed with relief as she repeated the new skill over and over.
I reflected on this with a friend whose daughter had also taught herself to swim this summer and we savored the fact that we hadn’t done swim lessons that were popular amongst friends. We didn’t have to do all that. All we had to do was wait, watch and enjoy or in the words of Magda Gerber, “Do less, observe more, enjoy most.”
Here is a video of my friend’s little 2 ½ year old swimmer. Completely self-taught. Isn’t she Awesome?! Please share your experiences with readiness in the comment section.
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Parenting a Healthier Generation – Janet Lansbury.