Help Me Do It Myself!

How often do we find ourselves running late and rushing for the door, and then having to stop because our three-year-old is still trying to put on his shoes?  It’s taking him forever and he doesn’t seem to realize how late WE are.

At times like these, we need to remember that children are still practicing and learning, and the simple task of ATTEMPTING to put his shoes on himself (whether it’s correctly done or not) is helping him improve as an individual.

The more we do for our children what they can do for themselves, the more we rob them of the opportunity to perfect themselves.  So, try to allow more time for them to practice those skills until they achieve speedy mastery. Don’t expect them to do it correctly at first. We all must practice to be good at something, even as adults.

If we continue to do things FOR children rather than letting them do things for themselves, we undermine their sense of self and their development, and we are not respecting their need to grow, learn, and gain independence. As they begin to grow, take note of their abilities, and respect their growth by giving them more responsibilities.

When we stand aside and let children practice, it also helps their critical thinking skills. You can start by simply putting it back on the child. For example, when a child says, “I’m thirsty,” instead of handing her a glass of water, say, “what can you do about that?”  Or, instead of asking the child to put on her shoes, say, “what could you be doing now?”  Sometimes, simply stating an observation, such as, “oh, you don’t have your shoes on,” can be all the hint she needs. Allow her to use her brain rather than yours. We have seen children mentally and physically hindered by being told what to do every step of the way.

So, stop and think!  Ask yourself, “Is my child capable of practicing this skill?”  The skill could be putting on socks, taking off clothes, carrying his lunchbox, walking on his own into school, or other tasks.  If the answer is “yes,” then stand back!  Watch in awe as your child grows before your very eyes!