Rudolf Dreikurs said it all when he said “Don’t do for a child what s/he can do for him/herself.” Letting children do what they are capable of doing on their own is the greatest booster of self confidence and esteem. Yes, it is much faster to tie your 5 year old’s shoes yourself but the message that you are giving your 5 year old by doing it for him/her is “I don’t believe in your ability to do it on your own.” or at least “My way is faster, therefor better.” This can be pretty discouraging if it happens again and again. I’m not saying that there are not times when you are in such a hurry that you can’t wait for your child to tie his/her shoes. Of course there are and you just need to explain it to the child that way too.
At 18 months old my daughter’s favourite expression was “I do it!” and she said that for EVERYTHING. It saddened me that I could no longer dress her, help her into her chair or carry her around but I watched the smile on her face grow when she would accomplish what she had set out to do. I watched her confidence soar and the sadness was replaced by the joy of watching her blossom. Today I am happy to report that she is a very responsible, capable adolescent.
As parents we want our children to have it easy, especially if we didn’t. We don’t want to see them get frustrated by trying to do something. We do this out of our great love for our kids. We need to switch our thinking and know that by allowing our kids to do things for themselves, we are being far more loving. We are paving the way for our children to grow up to be responsible, capable and self confident adults. This is one of the greatest gifts that we can give our children.
What are you doing for your child that s/he could be doing for him/herself?