Simple parenting has a good deal to do with pace. So much so that I have come to believe this basic principle about mommyhood and daddyhood in the early years: When kids are young, parents have to be quick-footed and fast-fingered. In four words? Pick up the pace!
Perhaps some illustrations might shed some more light on what I mean by this phrase.
Say you’re preparing supper, and your 1.5 year old, who has been walking a few months now, decides to check out the stovetop – which has two eyes “on” – about the time you are setting the dishes on to the table. Are you going to take the time, hands full of plates and silverware, to explain yourself, hoping he or she will listen? Probably not. Your best bet is to get to the stove quick; that becomes the immediate priority. Your curious child needs a fast-paced parent who will take charge and make a decision that is in the best interest of everybody. Pick up the pace.
You’re at the mall with your newly potty-trained toddler, when suddenly he or she says, “I gotta go potty.” You can scold him or her for no bladder control for the next half hour, maybe beg him or her to hold it, perhaps even try and bargain your way to a few more minutes in the shoe aisle. But your best bet is to move quickly and find a bathroom. No excuses; just locate a toilet quick. ‘Cause no matter what you do or say, kids that age need a fast-paced parent who will take charge and make a decision that is in the best interest of everybody. Pick up the pace.
You’re visiting a friend, and your young child explores the kitchen drawers, finding the good, sharp scissors. You notice his continued curiosity from the table, but instead of acting quickly, you assume he’ll know they sharp. Or that he’ll know what you’re thinking – “Don’t play with the scissors.” Or that he’ll be polite and put them back promptly. Yeah, right. And though a simple “No” should suffice, the risk of sharp scissors is too great to assume a verbal suggestion will work. It needs to be accompanied by quick feet. Speak and move with haste! ‘Cause no matter what you do or say, kids that age need a fast-paced parent who will take charge and make a decision that is in the best interest of everybody. Pick up the pace.
There’s just no way around it – small children need fast-paced parents. If you’re into long dialogue and explanations with 2 year olds, you’ll probably struggle. (strike the word “probably” … you will struggle.) What little kids need is action. So pick up the pace. Frankly, less explanation and more action would do many small kids a world of good. In my simple opinion, there’s just too many words floating around in the parenting world, and not near enough solid action. We’ve got way too much reasoning going on and not enough responding. No wonder we have a world full of tired and worn out parents; we’ve talked ourselves to death!
Remember, however, you can still be quickly responsive while relaxed; don’t confuse the two. Likewise, don’t think that being fast with action is the same s being rash or hasty. Not at all! You can move quickly to rescue a little toddler from self-destruction, settle a situation between siblings, or resolve a crisis before it erupts and still do it in the right attitude. Quick and calm can go together. Try it – it works amazingly well!
And I’m not saying you should never talk. Just know when to talk. With small children, talking is best before or after. “During” rarely works when they’re little. That’s when your feet and hands need to do the talking. So swing into action, then explain later. Truth us, when parents show a lack of speed to step in, it usually indicates a lack of authority. You’ll hear some parents say, “I’m just patient.” I think that’s code for “I’m afraid.”
Say what you will, I firmly believe in simple parenting. And one of the simplest tips that has helped me the most is this: Pick up the pace!
Gotta run….little Johnny just stuck his hand in my pet piranha tank. No time to talk!