We always love to hear different perspectives and approaches to raising children. It’s easy to forget that “your way” is not the “only” way – we won’t tell the kids! – and that, as hard as it is, it’s sometimes more helpful to let our kids go on their own than it is to step in and lead the way. In fact, in this guest post by Lisa Stern, it’s doctor’s orders. Lisa is a board certified pediatrician in Santa Monica, CA who spends her days with kids. We’re thrilled to have her share her perspective on the Blinkbuggy Blog!
Listen/Observe: Advice from a Seasoned Pediatrician
I’m a parent. I suspect you’re a parent too.
And like many people ( parents or otherwise), I usually have an agenda. Whether I’m at work, at home, or with my daughters I frequently go through life with a check list. I use my over scheduled life as an excuse. We all need to get things done, right? And while it’s useful to have an overall game plan, it’s not always necessary to have an endpoint. Sometimes it’s really great just to observe and listen to our children and not to instruct or micromanage their every move. It’s difficult not to play the role of coach and teacher. Parents often cross the line; it’s hard not to.
My personal and professional experience has taught me that being a good parent means to step back, observe and listen. This advice may go against your instincts. It went against mine. I see a lot of parents who are trying to make their kids better, faster, more. We live in a competitive world and parents want their children to have every advantage possible. But the longer I am in the business of working with children and their parents, the more I realize that one of the best parenting skills is to do nothing and simply watch. Watch your toddler play with a toy, watch your child complete her homework (or not), watch your teen struggle with middle-school friend drama. Watch, and avoid the impulse to fix things. Children develop self-esteem by doing things on their own and solving problems. Trial and error teaches children perseverance. Frustration, and learning how to cope with it, is one of the more important life skills to let your child learn. Think about your adult life. What makes you feel good? All your accomplishments are nice but do they make you feel good about yourself? Being good at something doesn’t mean you have good self-esteem. Remember that the next time you are coaching your child to throw the best curve ball.
It’s a gift to be able to stand back and watch your child’s process. Take the time to see where your daughters and sons own development leads them. It will be refreshing and liberating to cast aside your agenda. Let your little ones be themselves, feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel like there is always an endpoint. They will be better off in the long run and therefore, so will you.
Lisa Stern, MD
Pediatrician, Tenth Street Pediatrics
Santa Monica, CA