Ask a young child a question – and you may get a blank look or stare. It is very typical of young children and deep thinkers to take up to ten seconds to respond to questions – as they go about processing their thoughts.
So often, though, as adults, we rush through – asking another question on top of the first one – trying for an immediate reply from a child – impatient, as if they didn’t understand the first one.
But there is something to be said – and something to be learned – for taking our time, for pausing, for collecting our thoughts before answering. This is especially significant when we are reacting to our children’s many requests and endless questions.
It’s all about responding to the issue at hand versus reacting to it.
So often as busy parents, we find ourselves delivering a knee-jerk reply to an issue that had we taken the time to think it through and collected our thoughts, our interaction with our child would come from a more peaceful, positive place – a place of compassion and understanding.
That’s why maybe we can actually learn from our young children who take ten seconds to think about their answers before blurting them out.
Try it the next time your child, of any age, comes to you with a request. Stop for a second, listen to what the request is, check out how you’re feeling about it. Do you feel your emotions rising – are you ready to just spout out a spur-of-the-moment, off the top of your head response?
Because it’s not always necessary to give such a quick answer.
Why not request some time – “let me think about it before I decide”, “give me a few minutes”, “I need to think about it and we’ll talk about it after dinner”. Then when you have made your decision, your answer will be more composed, more sensitive, more clear, and your child will feel heard and considered.
For even if you have to decline permission or adjust the request in some way, your child may not be thrilled but you will have modeled a more positive way of communicating to your child.
And that’s worth ten seconds at least.