Sometimes life catches us off guard. We feel like a deer in the headlights. Sometimes things change so quickly that we are left shocked and confused. Have you ever felt that way?

How do you think you would feel if:

  • You lose your job over something you didn’t know you were doing wrong and aren’t given an opportunity to change your ways?
  • Your spouse left you suddenly?
  • Your best friend backs out of your weekly lunches with no warning because she’s sick of hearing you whining?
  • Your boss tells you a week before Christmas that there won’t be a bonus this year when you had been counting on it to pay for gifts?
  • Your car breaks down, you can’t afford a new one, and you just have to make do without?


How do you think a child feels when:

  • Suddenly and abruptly transferred from being cared for by mom at home to going to day care full-time?
  • Going from being rocked to sleep every night to suddenly being left to cry it out?
  • Having a diaper withheld when needing to poop because he’s old enough to understand that he should do it on the toilet?
  • Being weaned cold-turkey from mom’s breast or parents’ bed?
  • Being told that he doesn’t need a pacifier or a lovey anymore because he’s too old for that?
  • Being snapped up and taken out to the car (“time to go!”) while in the middle of playing with something with no previous warning?


People, especially children, deserve to be given warning, to be given a chance to adjust, to be given an opportunity to learn. When transitions are necessary, make them gently, be patient, take the opportunity to teach and to explain. Be sure to communicate, come up with solutions that will work for everyone, give your child the opportunity to learn and to make mistakes when learning. Some people are happy to just let things happen in their own time, but even if you are not, ensure that you push gently.

What is the alternative to abrupt changes? Tomorrow I’ll talk about the gentle path to learning.

Published on: June 02, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Annie
Annie has been blogging about the art and science of parenting on the PhD in Parenting Blog since May 2008. She is a social, political and consumer advocate on issues of importance to parents, women and children.
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