Valuing an Unhurried Childhood

Supporting our children to develop in the best ways possible has been the aspiration of parents for centuries.  Although it is good to encourage and enrich your child’s development in reading, maths or creativity, there is something lost if we push beyond “supporting” to “hurrying”.  Valuing an unhurried childhood means offering children the opportunity to progress at their own pace.  Mastering things when they are ready, with the time they need to really explore. And this takes a  childhood of rich experiences.

In our technology rich and fast paced world, our children are struggling.

The worrying truth is that our children are struggling.  Experiencing depression, bullying, behavioural problems and even drug and alcohol related abuse and suicide, in ever increasing numbers.  Now, more than ever, the importance of valuing an unhurried childhood is even more key.  We need to actively consider the environments and opportunities we are surrounding our children with.  And remain ever mindful of their state of mind and well-being.

With studies linking the amount of time children have for free play to their happiness, their level of self-esteem and their development of self-awareness, we need to actively find ways of offering this mainstay of childhood to our children.  Especially during these difficult times.

Valuing an unhurried childhood talks of den building in the woods.  Not a constant diet of screen use 

As children are effectively stopped, or encouraged away from environments rich in active play, or no longer given the time or social connections to engage, these are worrying times for all the rich processes of development that our children require.  And we need to ask ourselves what impact this is having, both now and in the long-term?

When it comes to a child’s development, faster is not better.  In fact, faster can be much worse.

As parents, we want our children to develop in the best ways they can, and for many that is often seen as wanting children to develop faster, but these two things are not the same.  Children do need to accomplish a great deal in such a short space of time.  But they need time to develop in all the mental, physical, social and emotional ways necessary before demands become overly focused, on say maths or reading.  And the best way for a child to access exactly what they need, when they need it, is through play.

Too bored to play.

If unused to playing freely, your child may complain that they do not know what to do.  Or that they are bored when the opportunity is first given.  Resist becoming involved at this point, as their own independent thoughts and actions are important here.  Being able to respond naturally and spontaneously in the moment are a critical part of the process.  Provided you avoid comments that control or direct their play, actions which effectively takes their interest away, they will soon respond with bursts of creativity.

Throughout their childhood, your child is developing in body and mind as they establish set ideas of who they are and how they fit into this complex world.  Without it our children are being accelerated into a future they are ill-equipped to manage, with worrying effects on their mental health.  With so many demands placed on them, now more than ever, take a moment, take a step back and value all the benefits of an unhurried childhood.

This session is taken from our course: What Every Parent Should Know

Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.


Don’t miss:

The importance of play

3 steps to helping your child believe in themselves

Nurturing Childhood in the Early years