Me to my 3 year old today: “Go get dressed sweetheart.”
5 minutes later, TOTAL MELTDOWN! My 3 year old is in tears, crawling up the stairs crying with one arm in her shirt and the other sleeve dangling from her neck. She can’t get her shirt on.
I Know You’ve Been There Too…
Now as a mom, we have one of two options:
1) We can solve the problem and simply put her shirt on for her.
2) We can let her cry it out, struggle with her shirt and allow her to learn how to put her shirt on all by herself.
To be totally fair, both of these options have their pros and cons.
Option one: Doing it for her will definitely solve the immediate problem, but guess what happens the next time she can’t get her shirt on? Yep, more tears and a growing dependence on mom to solve her problems.
Option two: Most likely the tears won’t stop right away. She wants an immediate solution and, in all honesty, I do too. I have to find a way to calm her down first and then help her believe that she can. It takes work. But guess what? Next time she can’t get her shirt on, she’ll have more confidence that she can do it by herself. She needs to do it herself. Over time, there will be less tears and eventually she will have the skills to put that shirt on herself.
Our Job As Parents Is To Put Ourselves Out Of A Job
Such is life. Too often we sacrifice some of the most valuable teaching experiences for a quick fix and, admittedly, there are times when that is necessary for everyone’s sanity, but the more times we allow those teaching experiences to take place the more our kids will learn to trust in their own abilities. If this type of parenting and mentoring is established, your kids WILL become independent and that’s what we want, right? We don’t want them to have a dependence on us. We want them to become independent, confident and capable people. The only way to do that as a mentor is to let them struggle and figure it out!
Your Do’s And Don’ts For The Week
- Let your kids struggle, but always be their cheerleader!
- Check out this awesome article called Struggle for Smarts (http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/11/12/164793058/struggle-for-smarts-how-eastern-and-western-cultures-tackle-learning)
- Think of yourself as their guide and mentor, not their problem solver, they need to solve their own problems
- Get discouraged, frustrated or angry when your child is frustrated (it is necessary for them to work things out themselves), you’ve got to establish calm reactions so they can see your example and do the same
- Solve their problems for them (Give them those opportunities learn)