Trips to the mall usually have a purpose. Buying a last-minute gift for a friend. Taking advantage of a sale. Doing the weekly grocery. During these trips, children are often told ‘to behave themselves, not to touch or break anything and to stick close to our side’. They are rushed from one shop to another while we attempt to distract them with yummy treats. They are forced to experience their surroundings according to our agenda.

 

 

 

 

With increasingly busy lives, we often lack the time to wander around the mall with our children.

 

Malls are exciting places for little minds. Bursting full of stimuli - bright lights, colourful window displays, loud noises and unusual smells wafting from the food court. As adults we become desensitized and look for our favorite shops to find the things we know and expect. But, our little ones see everything with fresh eyes, not knowing what to expect.

 

I decided to take my daughter Fiona to the mall. With no agenda. No plan. No time restrictions. This was her outing. I wanted to step away to give Fiona the freedom to explore her world, her way.

 

She could wander and choose which direction to walk and which shops to visit. I kept my distance, but she was always in sight. Every so often, Fiona would turn around to make sure I was still there. I would smile and nod giving her reassurance to keep on exploring.

 

Off she went...Fiona confidently walked down the mall making up her own mind where to go. I stood back. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been completely present. I truly had such joy being in the moment and feeling Fiona’s confidence grow and letting Fiona indulge in her curiosity. She was free to discover things on her own.

 

 

 

 

She was naturally drawn to all things sparkly and shiny. She knelt down staring at shiny high heels on top of a glass case. What amazed me was that Fiona didn’t say a word. She just soaked everything up. I reminded myself that a child’s curiosity is what helps them learn and grow.

 

 

 

 

Fiona couldn’t help but touch everything . Her little fingers skimmed across the bumpy leather surfaces and she fiddled with the bag chains. Fiona was using her sense of touch to explore her surroundings. She has always been gentle, touching things with respect.

 

 

 

Shop ‘til you drop! After a day of walking, Fiona’s little legs started to fatigue, but instead of sitting down...she impulsively threw her body on a soft, plush ottoman and stared at the ceiling. I loved witnessing the pure excitement on Fiona’s face. I loved watching her imagination run wild.

 

I loved observing her. I loved spending quality time with her. It reminded me to slow down more often and let my little girl create her own experiences. I realize that if I want my little girl to grow up to be independent, confident and self-reliant - I need to give her the space to discover the world with freedom and flexibility.

 

It was such an enriching day - for both of us. I highly recommend taking the time and doing the same with your little one…

 

It was a simple trip to the mall...but it is one that will be etched in my memory forever. 

 

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