boy with face paint and a capeSomething shocking happened at my house last night.

Unbeknownst to my four-year-old son, I placed a second piece of chicken on his plate. A few minutes later, he looked down at his plate and said, “You put more chicken on my plate. Thank you, Mommy.”

This is the first thanks I have ever received from him! I know what you are thinking, he’s four and has never said “thank you”? Here’s the thing; I’ve actually never solicited a “thank you” from him. Okay, that’s a lie. I have definitely buckled under the pressure of society (i.e. relatives). So, let’s say, 95% of the time I didn’t force a “thank you”. Instead, we played the Waiting Game.

The most important lesson that my son has taught me is the Waiting Game. For him, walking came at 16 months, talking came at 2.5 years, and he toilet “learned” at almost four. I felt all of the pressure when he did not hit the “developmental milestones” at the exact moment the doctor charts told me he should. I had to force myself to ignore the pressure and just… wait.

And guess what? Baby step by baby step, he accomplished all of these things and more! I have the satisfaction of knowing that he has come by these skills honestly, that he was truly ready and his “thank you” was genuine. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about the fact that I practically did nothing to facilitate these skills. There were never tears during 48-hour potty training boot camps, no drill practice to learn how to talk, and no “say thank you” a million times over. We just relaxed and let things be. I modeled the common courtesies. We surrounded ourselves with a community that supported us.

We waited.

If you’d like to play the Waiting Game, here are the rules:

1. Trust the child.
2. Trust yourself.
3. Ask for support.
4. Wait.

“Earlier is not better. All children accomplish milestones in their own way, on their own time” ~Magda Gerber

Post and photo by Callie Bosch

Callie is a mom of two and a proud supporter of all things Sunflower.