Every parent or expectant parent can quickly conjure an extensive list of parenting advice they’ve received from parents, relatives, friends, and even strangers in the grocery store. Some of it is useful, most of it is boringly obvious or cliche, but occasionally, it’s life changing.
Over the years, I have read an enormous number of articles and books on parenting and asked and shared advice with countless fellow parents. Since I’m in the midst of third trimester while parenting two young toddlers, I thought it would be the perfect time to revisit and share a few simple pieces of advice I have read or received that have changed my approach and outlook on parenting.
“Sit patiently with a fever.”
I wish I could find and credit the author of this wonderful article that I read early on in our parenting journey. The concept, which is boringly obvious to an ER doctor like Jeff, is that while most people rush to “treat” or eliminate a fever, it is actually a body’s healthy response to sickness and often the quickest, most effective way to treat it.
We don’t let our children suffer through extremely high fevers or pain without treatment, but we’ve noticed that when we let a fever run its course, the sickness is shorter and less painful overall. It also promotes healing by keeping an otherwise rambunctious child calm and resting.
Since I rarely take a concept and leave it in a vacuum, I’ve used this phrase to remind myself that many things I find inconvenient or annoying have a real purpose in strengthening my children and shouldn’t be eliminated or hurried along.
A one year old who needs to be constantly attached to me: hold them patiently.
They are beginning to realize the vastness of the world around them and need reassurance of their footing. The more gently I respond to this need, the more quickly they will have the courage to venture out on their own, knowing their place of comfort is secure.
An emotionally overwhelmed two year old who can’t express or understand what they need: wait patiently.
It takes time to develop emotional and communicative maturity. Much more will be accomplished after sitting quietly and letting the storm pass than jumping into the middle of it with equal frustration.
A three year old who repeats the same story or question ad nauseam: respond patiently.
Repetition is fundamental to learning. It’s certainly cuter when they’re learning to say “mama” than asking for the 1000th time if I remember the seemingly meaningless event that happened 5 minutes ago, but in both instances they are learning to interpret the world around them.
In the latter, they’re also learning how we view the world. Taking the opportunity to help them find and express the importance they are trying to capture will give them a stronger, more intentional, kinder vocabulary to explain their experiences.
A four year old who can’t fall asleep for hours because of the ideas and stories dancing around in her vastly imaginative mind (otherwise captioned: life lately): help patiently (otherwise captioned: this only happens when daddy runs bedtime).
As a natural sleep lover, I struggle the most with this challenge. At the end of the day, it is extremely difficult to appreciate Molly’s boundless curiosity and imagination. It’s also hard to remember that sleep, at any stage, is a learned skill. Rather than punish her for what is in fact a wonderful struggle to have, it is more productive and less destructive to focus on helping her find outlets for her insatiable creativity and imagination during the day and methods to calm her body and mind when needed. And probably call Kathleen.