Being little isn’t easy. I may not have a cranky boss to answer to, laundry to fold, or a mortgage to pay, but that doesn’t mean being a baby doesn’t have its own challenges. It’s not as easy as it looks and some days it’s downright hard.
When you’re little, nobody listens to you. Yesterday when mommy disappeared into the kitchen to make my afternoon snack it took a whole 3 minutes of my best car alarm impersonation before she came back. If I was bigger, I’m sure it would take no more than half that time.
Being small makes it hard to reach things. The other day daddy left the remote on the couch when he left the room. I stood on the very tips of my toes, and stretched my arms as far as possible. I could touch that remote, but I just couldn’t get my fingers around it. It was so frustrating that I almost cried. So close and yet not close enough!
Being new often means that I struggle with things that most people seem to have no trouble with. Other people walk around like it’s easy, but I find it very difficult and scary. When I try to eat with a spoon the majority of my food falls off before I get it in my mouth, but others operate that spoon like it’s an extension of their arm.
Worst of all, when you’re little people are always telling you what to do and how to do it. Don’t shove mommy’s cell phone under the couch. Food goes in the mouth and not on the floor. Stop taking your diaper off. Get that giraffe’s foot out of your ear. Do this and don’t do that all day long.
Just because I’m little doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing. I may not have mastered walking and eating with a spoon but I’m not incompetent. Maybe there’s a reason why I have that giraffe’s foot in my ear. Perhaps I simply have a different way of doing things and there is nothing wrong with that.
I know that all the unsolicited advice isn’t malicious. I understand that the intention is to help, but sometimes it’s better to let an individual figure things out on their own. People need to be given the freedom to find their own path. Even if the path they find doesn’t run entirely parallel to the path taken by most people.
It is much more helpful to be supportive without smothering a person’s sense of self. The temptation to offer advice is strong but doing so might undermine a person and shatter their confidence and self-esteem. Everyone needs the freedom to go their own way without fear of judgment, reprimand, or a big ugly “I told you so”.
I’m not saying that we should never share the knowledge that we have or help other people. What I am saying is that understanding when to intervene is just as important as the intervention itself. So how do we know the difference? As far as I can tell, there are two main guiding factors in determining how unsolicited advice is likely to be received.
- The nature of the problem we’re trying to help with. It is best to avoid unsolicited aid in matters that are highly personal, subjective, prone to emotional attachment, or likely to cause the person to feel self-conscious about their abilities.
- How involved we have taken it upon ourselves to become. A quick and simple tip is generally easy to accept. Nagging is annoying. Helping to the point of taking over someone’s project is not very helpful at all.
The most obvious time to offer our assistance or insight is when someone asks for it. Another good time to spring into actions would be if someone is in imminent danger of serious harm. If other people are having an open debate on a subject, it’s probably safe to join in with a bit of our own insight. There is also the option to simply ask if assistance is required.
If you find yourself to be the kind of person that can’t bottle up thoughts and opinions, then I suggest you start yourself a blog. You can scream your advice into the blogosphere and see who shows up to listen. If people find your advice less than helpful they can, and probably will, click the button in the top right corner marked with the X.
So if you see me struggling to shove a giraffe’s foot in my ear, just leave me be. It might look like I need help, but I don’t. Perhaps you think it’s a bad idea, but it’s not your foot or your ear. You may be sure that it won’t fit, but this is something I need to discover for myself.