Child development is a slow process. It’s not easy to parent through difficult stages and phases. Unfortunately, you cannot rush maturity. In parenting, there’s power in perseverance.
The other day, I ordered something online and it was delivered less than 24 hours later. What?! I mean, I like fast shipping, but this felt a little too fast!
As our world moves faster and faster, we adjust our expectations. Without consciously realizing it, we expect things fast, faster…immediately.
Unfortunately, fast is not a word we use in parenting.
Development is a process. Brain growth takes time (25 years!). Maturity cannot be rushed. Children grow out of stages eventually.
There is nothing quick about it.
It’s natural to look for solutions to speed up this process. Reward charts and parent-created consequences can give the appearance that things are moving along swiftly. However, these solutions usually stop working a few weeks (or days!) later because no amount of stickers can encourage your child to grow up faster.
So what are your options?
It’s not a flashy or glamorous answer. In fact, most parents squirm a little at this response. We want *something* to speed up this process.
I get it. It’s hard to wait for your child to learn how to sleep through the night or get to the bathroom on time. It’s hard to wait while your child learns how to share, show empathy, or apologize on their own. It’s hard to wait for your child to learn how to organize their schoolwork, advocate for themselves, or make decisions by thinking through the consequences.
These things can happen. But it will be in your unique child’s timeline.
In the meantime, your child needs your support. They need you to be invested in their growth and development. Even when it’s hard and especially when you feel like things will never improve.
Here are 5 ways to persevere:
1. Check your expectations: Notice situations when you’re expecting your child to be more mature or times when your expectations outweigh your child’s capacity. Do what you can to rephrase these thoughts in a positive way: “His brain is still developing.” or “Mistakes are opportunities for her to practice.” or “We’ve made it through every stage so far, we will get through this one too.”
2. Build, Strengthen, or Rebuild Connection: Your presence and attention can make a world of difference as your child grows. Spend time together one-on-one, do one of these simple connection ideas, or just put your phone away so you aren’t distracted. Though it may look a little different, older kids still need (and want) to feel connected, known, and loved by their caregivers.
3. Focus on skill-building: Rather than focusing on finding the “perfect consequence” for an unwanted behavior, be curious about why the behavior is occurring in the first place. Sometimes kids are developmentally able to complete a task, but they are lacking the necessary skills. Focus on teaching and guiding them, making each step clear, then standing back and watching them grow more confident as they practice.
4. Get support for yourself: With all the resources out there, there is no reason you need to parent alone. Of course, reaching out for support requires vulnerability and openness, and it’s OK if taking the first step seems overwhelming. If you’re interested, we have a safe, nonjudgmental online community called “The Neighborhood,” I offer local support options, and also one-on-one coaching.
5. Find support for your child: Even with all your love, connection, and encouragement, some children need additional help as they mature. Finding help for your child can be overwhelming and even embarrassing. It doesn’t mean you did or are doing anything wrong – in fact, it means that you are making a good parenting decision by getting your child the support they need.
Take a deep breath.
Your child needs you to be patient while they grow, learn, make mistakes, and try again.
Persistence isn’t as fun as one-day shipping, but it’s worth the wait.