Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Take Time for Your Young Kids- Don't Be In Such A Hurry

My friends and relatives say that I am a high energy person. I have to agree, because I like to do things fast. I can clean the dishes, laundry, and other parts of the house in light speed. My paperwork is always (unless I am ill) turned in on time at work. I can blog, cook supper, and talk on the phone simulataneously. So, it does not come natural for me to "stop and smell the roses" with my two children; somehow, usually I do slow down for them. If I weren't an OT with lots of training in child development, I probably wouldn't slow down for them. Especially in this day and age of cell phones, internet, video games, etc.

It is during the everyday routines and activities that young kids are learning from their parents, caregivers, and the environment. This might mean a slow-paced walk in your backyard as your toddler points to the flowers and birds, or throws trash away. What a great opportunity for language development! It might also mean that the trip up the staircase takes 5 minutes as your little one stops to talk, sing, or go up-down-up-down. What a great opportunity for gross-motor development. Even though it might seem cumbersome to let them go at such a pace, it is at this time that they are learning. I am glad my kids don't move around as quick as I do, because I think that kids subjected to this think they always have to be doing something. That would leave little time for reading, "free play", naps, imaginative play in the child's bedroom, etc. It makes me sad when I see families out and about running errands, sports activities, or other things late at night when they have been going at that pace all day long for most of the week; one or two days a night is fine, but not every night like this! Not good for the kids, and not good for the adults. Our bodies need time to rest and relax. Many kids who live fast-paced lives think they have to be constantly entertained. Once again, not good. I think this contributes to impulsivity, inattentiveness, and hyper-activity.

Many times a child with a developmental delay can improve during everyday activities, that is if the families just take that opportunity. For example, not being in a rush in the morning, means that the child can help put his shirt and shoes on. If the family is in a rush, usually the child has clothing put on him and he doesn't have to help at all.

Think about how this information could impact your family routines. Could you let the kids help you prepare supper at home instead of preparing everything yourself or eating out at a fast-food place? Could you let the kids help you with the trash, laundry, or other chores? These activities help with problem-solving, motor, and language skills. I plan this weekend to make a huge fruit salad for the extended family. I could hurry up and do it myself, but I am choosing to let my daughter help me. It's a great time for me to have her use a measuring cup, stir, and count food pieces. And I have no doubt that when we serve it to our family members, she will have a huge smile on her face and be more than willing to tell them she made it!

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