A few months ago, I read the book Bringing Up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman. It’s about a mother who leaves the scurried pace of New York to raise her child in Paris and be amongst all of the women who don’t get fat and parents that know how to do it all. I was sure I would hate it.
I didn’t hate it. In fact, I found myself daydreaming that I was one of these French parents, too. Parents that could bring their toddlers along to fancy restaurants. Parents who could say the word attendez! and have young children actually listen. I’ve tried using the word wait! in my house. It totally doesn’t work. I’m holding out hope, though.
Part of me thinks all of these fairy tales of other cultures doing it better have got to be wrong. The other part of me thinks, well, it’s worth a try. That’s why I was more than a little excited to see an online workshop that the HuffPost started this week called Stress Less Parenting. Druckerman is our first mentor. She’s teaching us how to get our children to attendez!, or wait a minute!
There are three pieces of advice she offers: give kids lots of chances to practice waiting, treat kids as if they can control themselves, and slow down your response times. I have to admit – this is very sensible advice. It’s also some advice I feel like I can start implementing today.
The thing about teaching patience is – you have to have it to teach it. It takes time to make a child wait and treat them like a civilized little being. Giving into children quickly when they start to melt down makes things progress quicker for everyone, but in the long run you aren’t teaching your child anything but your willingness to cave to his demands.
I moved to New York ten years ago. My pace has steadily increased year after year. There’s no strolling in New York. Everything is a fast-paced race to the finish. I noticed this the first time I landed back in the San Francisco Bay Area. After just a few months immersed in the pace of New York City, I was breezing by people in that Bay Area airport. I was driving faster. The speed of everything I did was pumped up a notch. I’m realizing now that if I am going to teach my little stubborn toddler patience – I’m going to have to slow it down.
I’m normally not one to seek out “how to” guides for parenting. But after reading some of Druckerman’s simple tips, I quickly recognized that I don’t have a patient child – because I am not a patient person myself. It may be corny, but I’m going to take to the Internet for a parenting workshop. It’s worth a try.