An easy, practical, useful tool to shift your parenting perspective!

Are you familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s principle that it takes about 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to become world-class at something?

Most of us know that to be great at something, we have to put in the focus, effort, and time. Rinse and repeat! Over and over again.

Want to be a ranked tennis player? You gotta be on the court playing matches. Want to excel as a chef? You gotta chop thousands of onions! Just ask Julia Child! Want to be the last person standing in Fortnite? You gotta play a lot. LOL!

Piano, chess, soccer, knitting, coaching, writing, scrapbooking … the list could go on and on.

You get the idea, right?

And at this point are probably shaking your head right along with me.

Well, last week, I was working with one of my clients who has 2 small children. She has a daughter under 1 year old and a boy who just turned 3. She is an amazing mom and really dedicated to peaceful parenting. She works at it mindfully.

She was feeling triggered because her son doesn’t listen to her. Can you relate to this? #thestruggleisreal

She said what really bothers her is how easily frustrated she gets when her son doesn’t listen. She gets frustrated with him, but she gets even more frustrated with herself. And she doesn’t like it. So, we talked about what she could do.


Let me ask you this, when your daughter doesn’t answer or doesn’t listen to you, why do you not get frustrated with her?


Because she’s a baby and doesn’t understand.


So, would you say she is yet to learn to listen?

You know, we have to learn to listen. We are not born with the skill of listening.

For example, I really have to tell myself to listen to my husband sometimes! Sometimes,  I don’t want to listen, or it’s hard to pay attention.


Oh yeah.  I do the same. I do the same. (We both laughed at this.)


Yes! But we expect our kids to listen well. All the time. And be great at it.

And you know, the thing is … at 3, he is just learning how to listen. He does not have the competency yet.  Studies show it takes 10,000 hours to be great at something. At 3, he’s maybe 200 hours into listening. Right?


Yeah. Maybe. Maybe 100 hours, actually.


So, he’s got like another 9,800 hours of deliberate practice at listening before he’s even going to approach world class at listening.


I think you just put it into perspective. He is learning how to listen, I just needed to hear that.


We forget. We lose perspective. I do it all the time. We all do!


Yes, I see that.


I think that’s why parenting is so triggering! Because it’s such a mirror to ourselves and our complex emotions.




So just remember that your 3-year-old is 200 hours into his 10,000. And he doesn’t know how to listen. He is learning, growing, and developing the skill.

So, then the question we all have to ask ourselves is …. how do I want to react, show up, model, support my kid while he/she is building a competency?

How do I want to support him/her when he’s building the skill? Really think about this for a minute.

At work, with friends, strangers, or in your volunteer life, how do you approach, manage, coach, and support those that are learning something new?

Many of us afford these people patience, grace, and understanding.

And then at home do we have the same empathy, patience, encouragement, understanding for our kids as they learn something new?

Or do we expect our kids to be experts at something automatically or just because? Even though they are little beings with little experience! #theirstruggleisrealtoo!

I admit to having low patience with my son occasionally. (And honestly, before my peaceful parenting journey began, it was often! VERY OFTEN!)

Sometimes I expect him to be ready at the exact time I said.

Sometimes I expect him to turn off the lights after being told a few times because it’s important to me.

Sometimes I expect him to remember that Tuesday is garbage day.

Sometimes I expect him not to be nervous about a new experience.

And when he doesn’t meet my expectations, I get triggered, frustrated, annoyed.

And then I remind myself that he isn’t 10,000 hours into building the competency yet.

And this reminder helps … a ton.

It calms me down, and it lessens the probability of being triggered.

The reminder gives me perspective.

It shifts how I see the situation.

It reminds me that he hasn’t been on earth that many years and that he has an underdeveloped brain.

It reminds me that while he is learning and growing, I want to be patient, kind, understanding, and calm with my requests.

And I tell myself one day he will remember to turn off the lights! (Probably right about the time he becomes a parent himself!)

Can you relate? If so, I encourage you to keep this at the front of your mind and let it shift your perspective. As parents, we still keep asking, making the requests, encouraging the listening, and asking them to turn off the lights. We just do it from a new perspective that creates connection, empathy, and understanding. #progressnotperfection

About the author

Lisa Smith

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