I wish I had known more about child led parenting when my first four where little. In lots of ways they did do things when they were ready, and in others we ‘trained them’. A concept I dislike now when reflecting on it.
However, it has been an absolute life saver of a concept for our 5th child.
If you had asked me if I could have predicted the type of child Joey might be having 4 older brothers and sisters (there is a 6 year gap between the first generation baby and Joey), I would have thought he would have been a trail blazing menace who wanted to keep up everybody and everything the older ones were doing.
Instead we found we had a risk averse child, who doesn’t/didn’t care about what anyone else is doing, and will do things in his own time thank you very much! He often hides this (especially in the last 6 months) with blustering bravado, which I think tricks people. On occasions I have wondered if people have thought we were holding him back?
I can only rest in the knowledge that we know the truth of it. I also know what the others were doing at various ages, and stages, and can say with confidence they have all been far more independent and adventurous children than Joey has been at the same age.
And that is a-ok with me.
I am so glad I worked out what was going on and pushed my preconceived expectations of my unique and individual boy behind me, and watched to see what would unfold in his own timing, in his own way. It could have been really damaging if we had pushed him when he wasn’t ready. It could have been damaging if we had let comparison dictate his development.
* Going to the potty.
* Moving to a big bed.
* Learning to read.
* Learning to spell.
* Learning to write cursive.
* Wanting to learn to swim.
* Going out independently.
Are just some of the areas we have seen success when we have stepped back and let him choose his timing. Some have been sooner, others have been later.
But it can be hard work pushing those things aside. Especially if your child is going to nursery or school. For us this is where home education has been an absolutely godsend, because he has never had to march to the beat of a thrust upon him drum- he well and truly marches to his own beat.
This week we saw another childhood milestone reached.
Joey has been offered a bike every birthday and Christmas for as long as I can remember. He has had several small ones which have rusted away in the back garden. So we decided to not buy him another one until he asked for one.
He has recently been making noises about learning to ride, and on May the 4th, had a go on a friends very, very small bike. In minutes with the help of a trusted mate he was riding it.
The next week I took him to a SimplyCycling meet up, where he got to try lots of different bikes to see how he would go.
It was clear that he was still in the wobble stage, and didn’t feel comfortable at all on bigger bikes. But he wasn’t pushed, he was allowed to just get on with it. On the weekend dad took him shopping for a new bike in the hope that this new-found enthusiasm would continue.
He spent the first week only wanting to ride on grass so that if he fell off it would be a nice soft surface, but eventually felt ready enough to go on the path way.
19 days on, an opportunity came up for Joey to do a BikeAbility course, organised by a home ed mum near us. I signed up with a little bit of angst as I wasn’t sure how he would go. He had only just started to feel comfortable changing surfaces (i.e moving from grass to pavement), so I had no idea how he would go out on the road.
I booked him on and left him too it.
By the end of the two days he had achieved his Level Two BikeAbiltiy.
This has been our experience with Joey. That while he may take a little longer on something (although was earlier with others), when he finally does it, he catches up really quickly because he has owned the experience and feels like he is in charge of it.
This which boosts his self-esteem no end.
It is amazing watching it all come together FOR THEM!
And incredibly freeing as a parent.