French Parenting, Part 2: Patient Kids and Parent-Centered Parenting

There are lots of things cogsci-toddler sucks at. He is not a super active child so he’s a pretty awkward runner. He is also a pretty clingy kid. His pronunciation leaves much to be desired. He’s slightly off key when he sings.

But in one area, he really has quite distinguished performance. That domain is WAITING. His primary caregiver (his grandpa!) and I both encourage him to wait for all kinds of things… wait for snacks, wait for mommy to go get the car, wait to play with his wooden blocks, wait for the ipad app to load… and when we ask him to wait, he points to his nose and tells himself to wait. And when he successfully waits for a prolonged period of time and finally gets what he asked for, he celebrates by saying, “WAIT!” and smiling very broadly.

Here’s a video of cogsci-toddler reminding himself to wait while a really slow lego app called Peek-A-Boo loads on the iphone… he also distracts himself by noticing that there are eyes in the starting graphic… then when the play triangle icon comes on, he says “play!” (really terrible pronunciation, I’m tellin’ ya):

And this waiting skill has totally made MY life better! I can take my time and finish up whatever minor thing I’m working on without worrying that he’s going to melt down. I would argue that parent-centered parenting and patient kids are a positive feedback loop: the more I dwaddle, the more patient Mo has to be… and the more patient he is, the more I am allowed to parent in a (relatively) leisurely manner.

Funny enough, this waiting business is a big thing in the popular memoir about French parenting, Bringing Up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman. Apparently, the word “attend” (“wait” in French) is quite common! This HuffPost article outlines 3 parenting recommendations related to promoting patience:

1. Give Kids Lots of Chances to Practice Waiting – In practice, this amounts to simply saying “wait” a lot.

2. Treat Kids as if They Can Control Themselves – I don’t know if I do this… but I do try to encourage cogsci-toddler to wait in circumstances where I honestly expect him to succeed. It’s probably a zone of proximal development thing

3. Slow Down Your Response Times – I guess is what “parent-centered parenting” is all about!

To be honest, I think waiting is both domain-general (patience may be a general skill) and domain-specific (there are contexts where it is easier to wait while in other situations it is harder to wait). I don’t think Mo is done with his patience training by any means… but given that he is just turning 2 today (happy birthday my cutie pie!), I’m pretty proud of his waiting abilities so far. Let’s celebrate that!


3 thoughts on “French Parenting, Part 2: Patient Kids and Parent-Centered Parenting

  1. cterasawa says:

    Similar to the Stanford marshmallow experiment then, right? That’s awesome!

  2. queenery says:

    happy birthday, mo! what a great post, and how awesome, mo! remarkable and SO CUTE! 🙂 i have been thinking a lot about this very topic these days (because of the most recent crop of tantrums for our mo). waiting is not an especially valued skill in american culture… sometimes i wish we lived in france. oi.

  3. teachingninja says:

    I’m gonna remember this one for my future kids.

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