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Nana's Loving Wisdom: Snowy Trees & Child Development

Updated: Feb 25, 2022

Here we are at the end of February and another snowfall has come and gone. We tend to think of winter trees as bare, stark, tall trunks reaching high and waiting patiently for the color that fills much of our calendar year. This winter however, in the days immediately following a snowfall, the snow has clung to the branches, outlining them and giving them clear definition.

Look at these tree skeletons as you would a record of your child’s growth. After a snowfall, notice how the snow’s sharp demarcation of each branch gives you a surprising message about its history. The trunk may grow wide and tall, but some of the branches grow horizontally, and some even grow in a downward slope. Not all are making steady upward progress, just as each stage of your child’s development is not a prescribed growth spurt. The overall effect is one of growing taller, but there are plateau times too, and times of backsliding, or downward angles. Even the strongest branches can grow horizontally for a while.

It’s unusual for toddlers to be precocious in their speech at the same time they’re significantly ahead in terms of crawling or walking and climbing. They usually work on one area at a time, letting go of one until they’ve accomplished what they set out to do with the other. The same holds true as your children learn more advanced skills. Before they’re old enough to develop a true interest in one thing, from ballet to Russian history, they go in hundreds of directions that can change on a daily basis. One day they love writing their ABC’s, and the next, all they want to do is build intently with their blocks. When they begin to “branch out” in one area, there’s no way to know if that will become a thick and solid branch that surges toward the sky, or one that grows horizontally and then dips downward. It may even become a little stick, falling to the ground with the first winds of March. When your children plateau, they may be at rest, lying dormant for a while, or they may be putting their emphasis on another area, one that may or may not be apparent to you.

These growth patterns: up, out, and down, all result in a beautiful vision of nature by the end of spring. In your anticipation of a tree in full spring bloom, the branches aren’t always visible, but each one has made an important contribution. The interests, skills, and accomplishments that make up your child’s days now may not be an integral part of his or her later adult life, but they’re all important to the whole. Even when growth appears flat in one area, and even when your child is regressing, have faith that spring will come, and the woods will be graced by a mature tree with an exceptionally full and interesting pattern of branches. Those branches are remarkably evident in a winter such as this.

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