How do we stop doing things for our children that they can do for themselves? I have been receiving some great questions lately about supporting independence– so let’s look into this area further.
It is often hard to slow down and allow children to do things for themselves. We live in fast times, and it is cleaner, faster and way easier to just take over. (Let’s be honest, there is nothing more painful than watching a child SLOWLY zip up their coat).
Often times when I am visiting schools, I see volunteers or assistants doing things for children that they can actually do for themselves. Sometimes support teams feel like they are “really helping” when they finish the art work, do the tasks, or even answer on behalf of a child. Unfortunately, long term this actually does more harm than good. It erodes self-esteem and skills, and creates a dependence that is not helpful for anyone. We need to give children the space and time to experience and complete tasks.
To be clear, when a child needs help – we should be assisting them. There are lots of areas that children genuinely need a parent or staff to assist them! The concern is when the child could do the task, and parents or support teams take over without realizing the consequences. We need to get out of the way to help children succeed.
Wait! What about at home? Parents need to be kind to themselves. Families are not always going to be able to support children to do everything on their own! I encourage you to aim for 1 out of every 5 opportunities at home! If you back off, and allow your child to complete tasks independently about 1/5 of the time that is a great start! It is never going to be all the time.
Start off by thinking about ONE thing you do for your child that they can actually do for themselves? Brushing their hair? Making lunches? Cleaning up toys? Feeding a pet? Then, work hard to give them the space and time to complete this task independently. Doing with… not for!
Also, check out a previous issue of the Big PLANS in Print newsletter for more information and a list of age-appropriate chores: goo.gl/apQK40