Why We Need to Get Out of the Way

We’ve all had them—those moments where we step in too soon or say the wrong thing and the result is disastrous. Our kids react, and we are left wondering what we did wrong. Most of the time it’s pretty simple. We need to stay out of the way.

These little people are driven by an innate desire to move, to speak, to walk, to read, to organize, and to observe. It is literally an internal FORCE that drives their development. And it’s also no joke. 

Baby J reminds me of this all. the. time. The other day he was taking acorns out of a basket and putting them back in again. And again. And again. His little body worked hard to bend down and pick up the acorns that he then held carefully in his chubby little hand. I told him we were going to go look at the flowers as I gently began to move him, and he erupted into a screaming flailing mess. He was mad, and I knew why. He wasn’t finished. That work was purposeful, and I interrupted it. 

Now, to say Baby J is intense would be a bit of an understatement, but his reaction was not atypical especially considering his age. I also realize that life can’t always be about picking up acorns. Except that when you are 14 months (or 2 or 3 1/2 or even 5) life isn’t about anything BUT the acorns. Life is about listening to that inner force that steers the miracle that is child development. Life is about having enough time to listen and respond to that force. Life is about feeling finished with whatever work that force called that little person to do. It’s about having the space to gather the acorns, build the tower, write the word, or draw the picture. You know who invades that space? Us. 
With the best of intentions are are unintentionally a hindrance to the very development in which we marvel. We’ve got to get out of the way. We’ve got to wait 2 minutes, or sometimes longer, to let our children follow that drive to develop, and we’ve got to do it as often as we can. The result? Peaceful children. Happy children. Respected children. 

Move back and watch. Wait. Breathe deeply. Rejoice in their wonder.

Find the joy,

Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.