Watching your child as she gains cognitive skills is like watching a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. You cannot see what is going on inside her brain, yet periodically, as suddenly as a new wing appearing, words and thoughts that she has been incubating tumble out all at once. She naturally finds her own equilibrium by adjusting her needs to fit the situation. However, sometimes she needs your support and guidance to challenge her to grow, to help her build resilience, and to help her find balance.
Since the day your baby was born, you have watched her grow and learn. You know how her brain gathers and absorbs information. You know if she quietly observes before practicing a new skill, or if she jumps in and persists until she masters a task. You know if she is naturally a bold explorer or if she needs encouragement to step out of her comfort zone. By watching her every day, you also know what she can do and what she has yet to master.
If you are familiar with your child’s learning style and current skill level, you can determine when your intervention is beneficial and when it disrupts her process. If you know your child’s skill level, you can step in with guidance and help her stretch herself with a slightly more difficult task. Once she has a basic understanding of the task, then you can step back and allow her to become competent on her own.
As your baby’s guide, you are in charge of setting limits and creating boundaries for her. You must answer the age-old questions of “How much is enough?” “How long can she stay up past her bedtime?” “How many cookies are too many?” Children naturally push their limits, and they need you to help them learn to moderate their desires and activities. Sometimes it can be challenging to know when your child is on the edge and needs to return to balance.
You probably know intuitively what your child needs in order to achieve and maintain balance. By being attuned to her yin and yang characteristics, you can offer yin- or yang-influencing activities to help her restore balance. If she is quiet and shy, then perhaps she needs to play in the sand to ground her and to energize her. If she is energetic and active, she may need time in nature or mellow music to calm her down.
The Yin-Yang Influences chart lists some characteristics to help you determine if your child is in a more yin or yang state. These characteristics could be relevant to her current condition, or they could relate to her general personality. The second part of the chart lists environments and activities to help her restore balance. If your child has more yang characteristics, she may need more yin activities or environments to help her settle down. If she has more yin characteristics you may encourage her to be more active with yang activities and create a more stimulating environment.
For your child to become competent, she needs your support as she learns to think for herself and find her own answers. Your challenge is to find balance between coaching and letting go. When your child follows her own initiative, tries to put a round peg in several square holes, and then finds the round hole through her own testing, she participates in active learning. When you direct her to the right hole, she participates in passive learning. How do you know when to offer guidance (passive learning)? When do you allow her to learn through her own initiative (active learning)?
Active learning makes a deeper impression on your child and fosters independence because she finds the solution through her own resourcefulness. However, sometimes safety or the level of difficulty dictates that passive learning is necessary before active learning can take place. For example, the acts of swimming and tying shoes first require the support of a parent or other guide. After your child learns the basic skills involved in these activities, she can become an active learner. Every child and every situation moves at a different rate and has its own balance point.