When It Comes To The Little Stuff, Be A Duck

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I’ve spent time around wet ducks and the water rolls right off.

The ducks doesn’t get absorbed in wondering where the water came from, why it’s rolling off their back, who dumped the water, what the water means, or how the water will impact their schedule.

The ducks just keep ducking along.

As parents and professional caregivers, we could learn from ducks.

It’s easy to get hung up on children’s words, actions, emotions, mistakes, and choices. Analyzing every little utterance and action. Picking apart every feeling and choice. Making every interaction a ‘teachable moment’. Struggling to decipher, control, correct, and critique all that they do. When Jenny spills her orange juice at breakfast, we scold that she should be more careful, and that juice doesn’t grow on trees, and that she knows better, and that it’s time to leave for school and her mess is making us late. When Kevin can’t find his left shoe (again), we lecture about responsibility, and how he can’t just kick his shoes off anywhere, and that he’s too old for this, and that it’s time for soccer practice and his missing shoe is making us late.

Instead of scolding and lecturing (and teaching and pushing and dissecting) all the time, we could let the small stuff roll off our backs.

Wipe up the juice. Help find the shoe. Move on with life.

Alfie Kohn says, “The best teachers have teeth marks on their tongues.” If biting your tongue helps the water roll off, bite away.

Making every drop of water (or orange juice) into a thunderstorm generates friction, wastes time, increases stress, and accomplishes little.

It also can lead to kids who tune you out–and are less likely to take you seriously–in serious situations.

Be a duck.

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Jeff is an early learning speaker, toymaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ who is really bad at getting his picture taken.

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