One of the things I remember most about my childhood (sorry, Mom) is how she would respond when we would yell for her across the house. It was location and direction: I’m in the kitchen! or I’m in the living room! or I’m upstairs! Always (alllwayyys) followed by I can’t hear you, please come and find me, and don’t yell in the house.
I can’t hear you? Please come and find me? This was so annoying because if she could hear me yelling enough to say ‘don’t yell in the house’ or ‘I’m in the kitchen’ She. Could. Hear. Me. Why couldn’t she figure this one out?
Really, I was the one who wasn’t figuring it out.
The shift from going to our children to having them come to us is subtle, yet incredibly valuable. (Not to mention that we would spend our entire day as parents traipsing through the house if all we did was come when our kids hollered.)
Not rushing in the moment they call for us means we are helping them develop grit. Resiliency. Persistence. A host of important character traits, never mind the importance of inside voices.
In psychology, this is called the Zone of Proximal Development. Which is a fancy name for that little tiny gap between what they can do and what they can’t yet do.
In our houses, it’s the Zone of Proximal Parenting. It is helping with instead of doing for. This gap is blurry and messy and grows and shrinks. And sometimes, without realizing it, we squish it completely. Sometimes we are so busy, so rushed, so intent on the outcome, we forget to offer our kids the space to figure it out. The time to struggle beyond what they have done a thousand times and try what they have not yet conquered on their own.
The ZPP is a fancy name for: I’m Going to Stand Still But Near You So You Can Start to Do This On Your Own. (I’ll stop with the capital letters now).
And this week is all about providing the ZPP. What is The Thing (oops, more capitals) that your child needs space and time to do? Is it tying their shoes? Doing laundry? Figuring out for themselves what comes after the lament I’mmmmmSooooooooBoooorrreeeeeddd?
This week stand back and watch. Make encouraging noises. Keep your hands at your sides. Don’t lean in.
Because sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is nothing at all.
Then look for their frustration, their faltering, their pride. And tell them exactly what you see.
I’d love to know what the Moooooooommmm or DadDadDadDad hollers are about at your house this week. And how you stand still, and all that they learn. Happy Summer of Love.
p.s. Maaaaaaaybe you already took a vacation, and missed a week of summer of love. Click on whatever you want to do below and be sure to keep me posted! I always love hearing how Summer of Love is going for YOU.
Here’s the choose-your-own adventure of week 1.
And the joy of week 2.
Should you read week 3? I think you should. 😉
And check out what’s left Unsaid in week 4.
As for week 5? It was hot and sticky and sweaty and time to say “will you paddle for me?”