Spring Growth


Spring is emerging, pulling us out of our snow-filled winter hibernation. Take a moment to step back and appreciate your children. When everything shut down due to the snow, did you have time to catch your breath and enjoy some family time? Did the break in routine allow the whole family to sit down to meals together? Did you allow your kids to build obstacle courses in the playroom? If your electricity went off, did you find creative pastimes without all the electronics? If your power stayed on, did you cook more as a family? Now, as children shed all the layers of clothing and come out from under the bundles of coats, hats, scarves, what changes do you see? Have their motor skills improved? Are they trying out different foods, speaking more distinctly, or adding words to their vocabulary?

The change in the season can bring out something new in kids. So, before you sign your children up for spring activities, listen to their interests. Do they love their winter sport now that they are mastering skills they have been working on all winter? If so, what about continuing that sport rather than switching to a new sport for spring? Have your kids grown? Are their friends changing? What activities do they want this spring? It is very easy to get caught up in repeating whatever you did last spring, but think first to be sure it is appropriate. Think ahead to the summer transition and what you could do to prepare this spring. Take your children to a playground and see what they like to play on. If they are uncomfortable trying the playground equipment, show them what to do and consider enrolling them in gymnastics or a similar class that will teach them how to swing, jump, and move confidently. All children should be confident enough with their motor abilities to relax and have fun on the playground. It is their most important social scene.

Just as our children expect us to respond in predictable ways, parents can find themselves stereotyping their children’s behavior. Patterns of responses get ingrained. However, when parents ask children directly about their thoughts, channels of real communication open up. From those moments of insight, parents and children can grow. Thinking through their children’s comments, parents can sift out ideas that are workable for the family. It might mean granting a child’s wish or finding a different choice that addresses the underlying need.

How parents mesh or, conversely, differ with their children’s personalities and temperaments may be the hardest to juggle. Watching her three-year-old daughter race into gymnastics class by herself, that mom is proud but secretly wishes her daughter needed her a little bit more. Meanwhile another three-year- old refuses to be separated from her mother, sobbing inconsolably, while her mom can’t hide her annoyance. On the other side of the door, the gymnastics teachers see all kinds of children. Some kids do really need a little more attention and encouragement from mom or dad. Other children are ready to thrive on their own, but mom keeps wandering in to check on them which sends the message to the child that they aren’t capable of managing on their own. One part of the parenting puzzle is gauging when to let a child alone, when to challenge, and when to help.

So take a breath of spring air and be open to the changes in your child. If your child is going through a bout of challenging behavior, recognize that it can be followed by a period of personal growth and calm. Every situation offers opportunities for growth. Like watering the seeds you have planted, nurture your children and give them room to bloom like the flowers pushing through the ground in your garden.