“Why do you want your child to hurry
up? Because you're done and figure he’s had long enough to finish?
Because you have something else to do? If so, can that wait so that you
can give your child the time he needs? Because you've promised to be
somewhere? ... If you are constantly rushing from one place to the next
(doctor’s appointment, haircut, playgroup, music lessons) have you taken
on too much? Should you plan more downtime in your schedule so you have
more time to be patient? More time for play and cuddles?” -
Now that kids are back in school and activities, are you noticing that life is too busy? Most of us take it for granted that we're always rushing from one thing to the next. That we have a never-ending to-do list that keeps us from catching our breath, never mind catching a sunset together.
But it costs us. And it costs our kids even more. Our society is so hooked on adrenalin that we don't acknowledge the high price our children pay for our lifestyle. Rushing our children through life:
1. Influences the developing brain. Your child's brain is being built every day, and the shape it takes depends on his daily experience. Some neurologists hypothesize that reinforcing neural pathways in a daily context of stressful hyper-stimulation creates a brain with a life-long tendency to anxiety.
2. Increases the levels of stress hormones in kids' bodies, which contributes to crankiness, difficulty falling asleep, weight gain, and immune suppression.
3. Makes them feel pushed and controlled, which triggers power struggles. Studies show this feeling--in adults who work at jobs where they're at someone else's beck and call--sends stress hormones sky-rocketing.
4. Overstimulates them so they can't process everything coming at them, which undermines learning.
5. Habituates them to busyness, so they become easily bored, craving electronic stimulation.
6. Keeps them from discovering and pursuing their own passions, which is necessarily a slow, organic process of experimentation and dabbling.
7. Creates a chronic feeling of incompleteness, which steals the joy of mastery.
8. Keeps children from attending to their emotions throughout the day, so in the evening they have a full backpack of feelings pressing for escape. That triggers meltdowns and can eventually lead to addictions like food, media consumption and shopping, which distract us from our emotional baggage.
9. Constantly interrupts their developmental work of exploring the world, so they lose their curiosity.
10. Forces them out of the groundedness of the present moment, into the breathlessness of scrambling to keep up, which undermines their authenticity and connection to deeper meaning.
11. Overrides their natural inclination to "do it myself," sabotaging the development of competence.
Not to mention, rushing makes us less patient and less nurturing with our children, so it's impossible to parent well. A mom wrote me the other day that she realized her son wasn't dressing himself partly because she was always in such a hurry that she just dressed him, rather than helping him learn how to do it himself. Another mom wrote that after she got into a fight with her daughter, she realized she had been “too distracted, too busy, to slow down and just be kind.”
This week, notice how often you rush yourself and your child. Notice the price you both pay.
- What can you change to slow life down?
- How can you build more time into transitions so you aren't always rushing?
- What small daily rituals can your family use so that everyone has a chance to connect to deeper meaning, rather than just hustling through each day? Think deep breaths, gratitude practices, moments of quiet cuddling.
And maybe even stopping to watch the sunset.