Even if you are not big on following trends, this one might just have you stop and smell the roses – quite literally. Slow parenting, or simplicity parenting, refers to an unhurried approach to raising our children. It means no more rushing from one lesson or class to the next. The idea is to cherish and savour time and to connect with our children, listening to and interacting with them on a meaningful level. Many people have weighed in on this topic ranging from believers in slowing it down, to sceptics who believe you will deprive you child of learning opportunities.
Regardless of your belief, this movement really should make one think. As parents we are all invested in doing what is best for our children, so we should all be open and willing to at least consider that the current rat race we live in and immerse our children in could potentially do more harm than good. I believe that at the heart of a slow parenting is parents’ willingness to admit when their goals and dreams for their children are more their own failed attempts. If we continuously want our children to keep up with the Joneses because we failed we run the risk of creating a society of high strung, anxious and depressed children who never feel they are good enough and who have failed to muck around and discover what makes them tick.
In the world we live in slowing down is more difficult than ever. Slowing down is about being conscious and present – here are a few pointers to get you started.
Be a present parent.
Being a present parent does not mean every single family activity should be planned to the T. It is about just BEING as a family. Switch off your phone and don’t feel tempted to check your mails. You don’t have to cram in as many fun activities as possible. Let you children take the lead. Go outside, take stroll in the park, read a book – as long as you are not preoccupied. Children do what they see not what they are told – so live slower, appreciate the small things and connect with your family.
Set a pace that is conducive to your child’s learning.
Very often pressure to learn and achieve can have an adverse affect on children. It might cause them to not want to explore subjects and topics that would otherwise have interested them. Be aware of this and know when to let your curious child loose to explore! Every child needs discipline and encouragement when it comes to homework and activities. As a parent you should try and encourage dialogue so that your child is able to express if they are feeling frustrated.
Read between the lines.
Don’t always push and expect a full report after every class and activity. Allow your child to spontaneously start talking about what they liked and did not like. Pay attention to subtle clues like tone of voice and body language. If your child never mentions an activity when its over or complains about it, it might not be the best activity for them.
Stop, observe and listen.
Children need time to practice and make sense of what they are taught. They need as much time being exposed to it as they need down time to determine whether it interests them. As a parent or teacher your job is to facilitate learning and experience. Practising new skills on their own empowers and motivates children to continue exploring new things.
Open-end spontaneous play.
It is really important to create a home environment that is conducive to learning and exploring. Fill your home with fun, interesting objects and allow your children to choose what interests them. Promote games and activities that are not guided by right and wrong, but rather unleash creativity and pure fun. Group storytelling where the story does not make sense, use building blocks to create unconventional structure, explore objects that can be used as musical instruments – as long as it enriches the imagination and makes for a good laugh.
Children are born with a slower, serendipitous way of being. We should cherish this curious and magical way of being as long as we can.