If you are like most parents, you probably rush to help your child, especially when you see him struggling with a task. The desire to do things for your child is an instinctive parenting response. It is rooted in love and prompted by the deep-seated need to make life easier for your child.
This desire, however, may not actually be as helpful as you imagine it to be. It may even work to your child’s disadvantage.
Your child needs the opportunity to fend for himself in order to grow in independence and resilience. He needs to figure out how to do things – and actually do them himself – in order to develop his problem-solving skills. When he fails at what he does and tries to do it again, he develops resilience and spirit. And when he succeeds at doing things on his own, he grows in self-esteem and confidence.
What do you want for your child?
You want him to grow up to be a confident, mature, and happy adult. You want him to look at life with a self-assured and positive disposition that is grounded in reality. You want him to be able to make sound decisions, to do things, and face difficulties with confidence, hope, and a cheerful outlook.
If you want your child to grow up this way, you have to help set the foundation during the first years of his life. You have to lay out the groundwork by allowing your child to do things for himself.
When you insist on doing things for your child, you send him the message that you think he is not quite ready to do things on his own – and that it is better for him to look to other people to do things for him.
On the other hand, when you allow your child to do things for himself, you give him the opportunity to learn and grow. You support his efforts at becoming independent and self-reliant. You help him realize that he is strong, competent, and capable of accomplishing the things he sets his mind to.
Let your child do things on his own even when you see him struggle at first. Encourage him, but let him be. Challenges teach him to recognize that it is okay to struggle – and even to fail. By pushing him to try and try again, they teach him to be persistent and resilient. They teach him the value of determination and perseverance. So, allow him to tie his shoelaces. Let him prepare his own milk and cereal for breakfast. Let him choose what to wear for a trip to the mall. Assign him chores to do at home. Encourage him to make age-appropriate decisions.
When your child sees that you believe in him enough to allow him to do things on his own, you foster his confidence. You teach him responsibility. You give him a sense of accountability. You teach him to take pride in doing and accomplishing things. You help instill self-respect, self-reliance and a positive disposition. You teach him life skills and attitudes that will help him become an independent, happy, and productive adult. You prepare him for life.
Adam McCauley, dam McCauley, the owner and operator of Go No Sen Karate in Peekskill, is an author, motivator and speaker. With a PhD. in Martial Arts Science he was inducted in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2007. His goal is to “Build Better Bodies & Stronger Minds!” in everyone he works with. www.gonosen.com.