Kids operate at a different speed than adults. Typically the opposite speed. If you are in a rush, kids slip into slow motion mode. If you are taking it easy kids will demand playing a high-energy game. These differing perceptions of the space-time continuum can often lead to conflict. It certainly does for me. I need to learn to stop rushing kids through the day.
Being on time is one of those things that is important to me. I’m not sure if this is because I don’t want to miss out on anything, because I don’t like walking in late or because I am in a constant state of rebellion against my mother’s perception of time. It is a long standing joke / understanding that my mum is likely to arrive an hour later to family gatherings that the prescribed gathering time.
I don’t like to be late so I always build my travel plans to get myself where I need to be at least 15 minutes early. If that means I sit outside in the car or on a bench somewhere to kill time and walk in the door on time, I will do it. I generally assume there will be things that will delay me while en route to my destination and as such leave early enough to allow for those delays and still be on time. My kids often seem to operate on my mum’s schedule. The result of this disconnect is that I often end up prodding and rushing them to stay on schedule. Often it feels like my default mode and it is a struggle to get out of it.
What Happens When We Hurry Kids?
Increases Stress Levels and Anxiety
When we are continually pushing our kids to get to the next place and get things done we elevate the pressure on them and increase the anxiety they feel.
Creates Power Struggles and Anger
As all parents know, kids want and are willing to fight for autonomy. When we push them to conform to our schedules, we end up in a battle over who is in charge. Kids will either actively or passively push back. This might mean a temper tantrum or other angry outbursts or it could be a child slipping into slow motion when getting ready to head out the door for school.
Makes it harder to enjoy life with our kids
Constantly nagging and directing our kids means we are in a regular state of power struggle. If we are in or prepared for battle at all times it means we aren’t enjoying spending time together. It means we might start to avoid spending time together or default to using a passive distraction for our child instead of actively engaging with them in an activity.
When we rush our kids we cause stress, power struggles & make it harder to enjoy life with our kidsClick To Tweet
How to Stop Rushing Kids
Sometimes we have too many activities on the go. We think we need to sign our kids up for music lessons, gymnastics, hockey, language lessons, swimming, and Girl Guides. Add all of those activities on top of our busy lives as parents, activities for other kids, family time at dinner, reasonable amounts of sleep, parental fatigue, etc. and we have set ourselves up for ongoing conflict.
Look for opportunities to slow down. Question whether all all the activities are necessary. Discuss with your child what they want to do and what you would like them to experience. Determine what really needs to get done. Build in time to experience life at their speed. You might have an objective to get to the park to play and they might being dawdling on the way and stopping to look at flowers or examine interesting snow drifts. Instead of hurrying them to get to the park, recognize that they are getting enjoyment out of the journey and decide if the destination is that important. If you only have a limited amount of time to play, ask them whether they want to go to the park or if they want to take a slow walk instead.
Build in more transition time
Assume everything will take longer than it would without a kid. Build in playtime en route to the park, add extra time for getting ready for school in the morning. Give your kids a count down or more notice of the plans before shifting into the next activity. e.g. “in ten minutes it is time to get ready to go.” “Five more minutes to finish up and then we need to get ready.” Make sure that you in that process you also leave enough time to get ready in slow motion.
Schedule routine activities
We all have regular routines in our days. Getting ready for school and getting ready for bed being the most likely ones. Establishing regular routines that everyone knows and agrees to means fewer opportunities for power struggles. Work with your kids to develop the routines, build in the extra time for slow motion and timelines that you can refer back to when struggles start to emerge. Re-evaluate those schedules and adjust them as needed.
Take a deep breath
When you find yourself pushing and telling your kids to hurry up, step back, take a deep breath and question how important it is to engage in the power struggle. Decide if it makes a difference to arrive 5 minutes later than planned or if you can make time to go at the same pace as your kids.
Adjusting to Kid Speed
In the moment when we are telling our kids to hurry up, and our stress levels are rising, it can be helpful to ask if you are running late because your kids are dragging their feet or is it because you didn’t leave enough time for the activity or the transition. Recognizing who is the cause of the delay can help to shape your thinking and your actions. Make time for your kids to function at their speed, provide them lots of notice, schedule routine activities and breathe.
We can save ourselves the stress caused by hurrying our kids by taking a deep breath & slowing downClick To Tweet
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