It’s not always easy to foster connection with the people we love. Sometimes we’re tired, hungry, stressed, or just worn out. Connection isn’t always easy, but it’s always important.
This week I’ve found myself connecting more by stepping back than by stepping toward my children.
We went swimming this week. Brom wanted to learn to dive. He’s 3 and he wants to dive. I wanted to tell him no. Instead I told him not in the kiddie pool. In deeper water, he climbed up on the edge, sat on the side of the pool, put his little hands over his head, then rolled, hands and head first, into the water. I stood by, telling him I was there if he needed me. I encouraged him, I cheered with each dive and was suitably impressed when he swam the 3 meters back to the edge each time. Over and over again. After about an hour and a half he began to tire, he couldn’t quite swim all the way back to the edge on his own. He floundered. I did not rush to grab him. I did not save him (though my hands were under the water to catch him if he needed me), I simply told him I was there.
I waited to see what he’d do.
He rolled onto his back, into his safety float. He relaxed, caught his breath, then rolled over and swam the rest of the way to the edge.
I cheered and congratulated him for his quick thinking and staying calm! I was so proud of him, and so was he!
Connection. It’s such a weird and interesting concept. By stepping back, being close, but not interfering I strengthened the connection I have with Brom more than if I stepped in, took charge, or directed his actions.
The same holds true for the older kiddos too.
Ella received a Kano kit for Christmas. It’s a build your own computer kit that uses raspberry pi as the base. (It looks awesome and she’s had so much fun using it!) She built the computer and was playing a game, but couldn’t figure out what the command prompt meant, she asked me for help. With some trial and error I helped her figure out what she needed to do. She deleted what I’d typed and re-typed it herself. It didn’t matter whether she needed help or not, she wanted to do it on her own.
Had I typed and hit enter, had I been the one to actually complete that step, I’d have taken away her sense of accomplishment. By answering her questions, showing her how, but not actually doing it myself I gave her the information she needed to move forward. When she ran into a similar problem later, she completed the steps on her own. I received the biggest smile ever for giving her that moment. I know Ella, if I’d stepped in and completed that step for her, she’d have been hurt and upset.