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You Can’t Make the Cake Bake Faster By Turning Up the Heat

Several years ago, while I was home schooling Matthew, I was experiencing a particularly difficult week which sometimes happened when Matthew would take a few steps backward in his interaction or language. As you may have heard me say in the past, our children’s growth is not linear and sometimes we do face set-backs just when we thought our child was making nice progress.

Back in the home-schooling days, I had a camera installed in his room so that I could watch some of the other teachers who spent time in the room with him and could provide guidance and feedback. For eight hours a day, I would either be in his “classroom” with him or watching him with another teacher. One day in particular I was watching and feeling frustrated and defeated. I called my friend Nicole (who was also home-schooling her son) and sought some advice for a specific issue I was trying to address. The advice she gave was brilliant (as usual), but unexpected. What I expected her to say was something along the lines of “try modeling the sentences” or make sure he is getting the sensory input he needs.” Instead she said “turn off the camera.”

The thought had never occurred to me. I had placed this pressure on myself to be so committed to watching every minute as if I could somehow help him more if I drove myself nuts. Nicole correctly pointed out that Matthew was just having a bad day (or a bad week) and that I should just allow that without needing to jump in and try to “fix” every difficult minute. Of course Nicole and I helped each other troubleshoot issues and make improvements to our home-school programs, but the reminder to take a step back and give myself a break was so profound and represented a new and powerful form of “improvement.” So if you, like me, are inclined to try to stay on top of every minute detail, give yourself and your child a break every once in a while and “turn off the camera.”

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