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'Staying awhile' in the Being stage

‘Staying awhile’ happens when a young person is showing signs ( conscious or unconscious) of readiness to develop and grow by progressing into another stage in their development but

the ‘big people’ around them don’t give sufficient permission for this to happen; rather, they communicate that they want them to stay ‘small’ by keeping the young person’s level of dependency on them at the same level. ( Deep stuff right?).

Useful links:

Intro to the cycle of development =


Intro to being stage =

In this blog, I want to focus on the ‘being’ stage which we first bump into between 0-6 months. In this stage the young child is focused on calling for care, signalling when they are in distress and generally wanting to be valued without having to do anything to please people. Naturally, as the child gets older they become more aware of their needs and their own abilities to meet them e.g. I can now grab the things that the big people were required to hold for me. What can often happen, is the carer can be oblivious to the signals of growth within the child or they see it but in the name of safety, protection & keeping them close they ignore it. This is where the phrase ‘staying awhile’comes from. ‘Staying awhile’ in the being stage means prohibiting the young person from starting to tackle tasks in the Doing stage regardless of their age. Contained within the doing stage, the young person has a desire to explore & experiment in and with their environment, they separate from the main carers as they explore but want to know they can come back if needed and lastly, they require adults to keep them safe as they do all this. When my son first started walking I was really happy and excited that he was progressing into another stage in his life, what I didn’t realise was that I still wasn’t ready for him to progress. I didn’t want him to explore and experiment in my house! No no no, that would mean getting things dirty and me having to run around to make sure he was safe. Not for me! And worse of all he wouldn’t need me as much… No way! So I didn’t encourage his appetite to progress to ‘Doing’ but rather encouraged him to ‘stay awhile’ longer in the ‘Being stage’ and do things quietly with me whilst undertaking the exploring for him e.g. “This is how this works son”, “I’ll tell you why these 2 objects are different, no need for you to touch them” etc. Consequently, I noticed when he was around 4-5 years old that he showed a lack of initiative in tasks and would often wait for someone to walk him through the tasks. I also noticed that he didn’t like solving problems and would either turn in the other direction if a task had an element of problem-solving or wait for someone else to complete the task for him. What I had to do was first recognise the need that my son was fulfilling by ‘staying awhile’ & really challenge and reflect on it. I wanted to feel needed, wanted and his hero… but this came at the expense of him not growing increasingly aware of his own internal potency. I went on a journey of putting my son's needs above mine and listening to the call to growth which his lack of initiative and rejection of difficult tasks were offering to me. I know I’m using a parental example but this has implication within schooling as well. Is there a voice inside us as educators that want our students to be dependant on us so we feel OK and adequate at what we do? This can only be discovered by reflection on our practice and noticing the “cultural cycle stage” our group of young people may have a longing for.

Helpful tips

  • Notice in what manner you interact with the young person and what your behaviour is communicating e.g. ‘stay awhile’ longer in the being stage or giving support to achieve tasks in the doing stage.

  • Look out for behaviours which could indicate a young person has a desire to grow into the doing stage e.g. lack of initiative, not knowing what they need, wanting others to complete the ‘doing’ for them.

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