My 4-year-old daughter is very creative and strong-willed. After all, her chinese astrological sign is “wood monkey” (most kids who are 4 at this moment in time (and were born before feb 2005) are wood monkeys). Monkeys are imaginative, responsible, humorous, witty, curious and clever. They can also be sneaky. But the wood monkey is a real dynamo. And boy is she! So much passion and always a plan… a big plan.
But sometimes all this kinetic and curious energy, coupled with her speedy mind, seems to stop her in her tracks. It’s almost as if she blows a fuse from time to time. She gets really UPSET when she loses. And the beautiful thing is that she knows it. She says, “I get angry when I lose”. What a blessing to us (her parents) that her self-awareness can help us pave a way for her for even greater self-understanding.
So as the mother of a wood monkey, here’s my PLAN:
LET THE MONKEY LEAD
My self-imposed task now is to let her lead, let her call the shots and say “yes” as many times a day as I can. Now, of course I don’t mean that I’ll say “yes” to 10 gallons of chocolate sauce or dangerous sky-diving activities. But I am trying with all my might to NOT suggest too much to her and to let her come up with HER OWN plan.
We are currently in Hawaii, so every day is an adventure. Swimming is the most exciting thing going on around here, and my daughter in the past, has been very nervous in the water. I’ve tried with swimming lessons and she just gets freaked out and panic-y. So now… I let her lead. I don’t say, “Oh, try to kick with big splashes” or “Do you want to try jumping off the side and I’ll catch you?”. She just doesn’t respond well to my ideas and suggestions. And I see that as I back off, she gets more adventurous and becomes more brave, becoming more in-control of her world. And I am happy to report that in just one day (yesterday) she learned to swim! All the way across the pool AND in the Maui waves (with floaties).
One more thought on letting her lead: yesterday she wanted a chocolate covered macaroon cookie. I said “ok” and her Daddy said, “You’re not going to like it”. They had a little battle over it and then we decided… let her try it – let her have the power to choose and we’ll see (and the old “choose your battles” rule also applies here). So we bought the baked item at the Maui Coffee Store and she liked it…kind of. Will she order it again? Who knows?! Who cares! The important thing is that she is free to choose, lead and follow her curiosity, and for wood monkeys (and for most of us) that is one of the greatest perks of our liberal democratic nation. Power to the wood monkeys!!!