I posted a link to another blog on Facebook today. Some of you may have seen it. It's something I often think about, in my line of work, and try to understand.
Let me start out by saying, I know many parents who do so much for their kids, and it is out of love. It's well-intentioned. And let's face it, if you've watched the news lately, you could do a whole lot worse. But I think something that is completely crippling our children is that we are constantly doing for them. Things they can do. Things they should do. Things you have to teach them to do.
I know why parents do things for their kids, especially young kids. It's easier. It's faster. It's done the right way the first time. But what are you teaching your kids? That they aren't capable? That they can't do anything they put their mind to? That they need to seek assistance on every single task? They can't do it right?
I have OCD. I admit that letting my kids help around the house really tests me. I have to physically stop myself from reloading the dishwasher MY way. I have to stop straightening their covers after they've made their bed. I have to let their work shine.
We have the "3 Time Try" rule at our house. If that button is giving you a hard time, you try at least three times on your own before asking for help. And if they can get it on try one or two, they are literally beaming with pride, and so am I. I mean, why would children (or anyone) do anything on their own if they know someone else will do it for them?? Kids are smart, and they are very fast learners.
As most of you know, I run an in-home daycare. I have to run a tight ship. There's only one of me and several of them, so they have to learn a lot patience, independence, and problem-solving skills. I have so many parents ask me "How do you do it? How do you get them all to sleep at the same time? Use manners? Clean up their own messes?" Answer is simple. I expect them to, and they know that. It takes time, routine, and consistency.
We all love our kids so much. And sometimes it does really feel good to be needed, but let's not put our children in a situation where they will feel inadequate. Build them up. Keep them trying. And then, here's the best part, you'll see them grow and learn in so many ways, and build their self-esteem in a positive way. Don't just tell them how great they are, let them show you.