I was recently extremely frustrated due to a major sewing project I was working on. I knew exactly how to complete the project, but trying to rush through it concluded with many little mistakes. If you sew, you can probably relate to the frustrating fact that taking out a line of stitches takes about 100 times longer that sewing them in with a machine. I think I can get through something in a certain amount of time and then, because I am trying to race to the finish, I end up wasting so much time because I didn’t slow down to do it right the first time.
During this ever amounting time of seam ripping I had going, I started thinking about how similar this is to many things in my daily life, especially how I teach my kids. I remember growing up my dad would always teach us “Do it right the first time!” I remember my brother doing jobs over and over because he didn’t pay attention to the detail. He was miserable and couldn’t understand why the first time wasn’t good enough! Now though, I can see how my dad was slowly teaching him how much time and emotions are saved when you slow down and do things right the first time.
I think this concept is really crucial as we are teaching our kids. Sometimes taking the time to stop and teach our children in the moment is difficult, but truly really yields the best results. I loved how Cheryl Esplin put it when she said:
Sometimes the most powerful way to teach our children is to teach in the context of what they are experiencing right at that moment. These moments are spontaneous and unplanned and happen in the normal flow of family life. They come and go quickly, so we need to be alert and recognize a teaching moment when our children come to us with a question or worry, when they have problems getting along with siblings or friends, when they need to control their anger, when they make a mistake, or when they need to make a decision.
If we are ready, our children will be taught with greater effect and understanding. (Teaching Our Children to Understand).
I know this can be really hard at times. I usually have a list of things I’m trying to get done, items I need to buy at the grocery store, or I might even be right in the middle of a really important conversation (wouldn’t you know that is when these teaching moments ALWAYS come along!) I have to emotionally drag myself away from the situation and remember that teaching my child is the MOST important thing I can do.
At the pool the other day a friend was a perfect example of teaching in the moment. Her cute little three year old was pouting and furious that her little brother needed so much of mom’s attention. She got put in time out and mom told her when she stopped crying, she needed to sit for one minute and then she could get up. She immediately jumped up happily to get back int he pool, but she hadn’t served her minute. This would have been so easy for mom to just let her get back in (although I am pretty sure another crying fit would have soon transpired again.) Instead of letting it slide, mom patiently took her back to the chair and told her she had to sit quietly for a minute. This made the little girl mad again and she started screaming. As you can imagine, this scene repeated for about five minutes until she finally sat quietly for a minute and was allowed to jump in the pool.
Now it would have been so easy for my friend to eat her words and let her daughter jump quickly back in the pool. It is HARD to always follow through with what you way. It’s easy to say, “I’ll deal with this later,” or “I just want to have a good time so do what ever you want!” I am so happy to have much needed example of friends who stick to their guns and choose to take the time to teach their children lessons in crucial moments. I am happy to say that her cute little three year old jumped back in the pool and was happy for the rest of the trip.
I know this was crucial in my life as a teenager as well. My mom was always there to answer questions when they were asked and never skirted around difficult situations. Because of that, I was never afraid to ask her anything because I knew she wouldn’t tell me she didn’t have time. I know we can’t always stop in the middle of what we are doing, but if we choose to focus on taking advantage of “in the moment” teaching, it will keep us from a lot of back stitching in the future.
I love a recent phrase I heard by President Thomas S. Monson:
“Life by the Inch is a Cinch, Life by the Yard is hard.”
My challenge to you is to live life by the inch! Taking advantage of those SMALL (sometimes inconvenient) teaching opportunities will make a BIG difference!