by: posted Thursday, July 5, 2012
Category: Behavior, Education
Making it a priority to teach these kids to do something on their own.
As usual, I was patting myself on the back about how much better of a parent I was than my friend who wouldn’t let her 1½-year-old jump off a tiny wall that my children had safely hurtled since they first began walking.
My face broke into a smile as I mused on how I've found the perfect balance between safety and over-protection. I let my children explore, at their own pace, dangerous situations (walls, stairs, grenades) until they become experts.
Just as the width of my prideful smile peaked in the center of my cheeks, the 1-year-old sat down and started teaching my 3-year-old how to put on his shoes. My mouth deflated like an untied balloon, landing into a slack-lipped pout. Should my kid be able to put his shoes on already?
This instantaneous pride burst was brought to me by my body’s built-in, karmic, large-head/ego popping machine: whenever I am feeling particularly superior a seemingly coincidental event occurs to happily prove me wrong.
I first noticed it in college. One day I was feeling super cute and I flitted across campus in my too-high heels with my head held high and tripped over a tree root and fell on my face. I was quite humbled. And I sadly climbed down from my high-horse shoes for a couple weeks. But eventually I forgot about my experience, and as soon as I had built my ego back up to flitting-across-campus size, I tripped over the very same root. This time my fall was witnessed by some acquaintances who never let me live it down.
Now I know what you are thinking: It is not karma, it is those damn high heels.
Or possibly: At least if you are going to wear high heels, stick to the sidewalks.
Or if you know me really well, you may be thinking: It’s not karma. It’s that you’re the most unobservant person we have ever met.
But I am telling you, it’s the karma!
In any event, the real point is not to explain to you that I am more special than you because of my large-head/ego popping machine. (Ouch, I just got a paper cut from the computer.) No, it is because I realized that I have fallen behind on certain duties as a mother.
I spend so much time complaining about how little time I have that I never step back, reassess what my kids are capable of and start training them to do things themselves. I rush around as an overwhelmed, overtired overlord that I never take the time to actually teach.
That is why in honor of our nation’s independence, I am launching my own Independence Day.
I have developed three rules/guidelines to help me in my quest. (Karmic Truth Disclaimer: I stole these from other parents and am only acting like I came up with them on my own.)
1. Walk Away: I am very impatient and I can’t resist intervening when I watch my kids struggle to learn, but they need to discover how to do things for themselves. So I need to learn to not hover.
2. Train Them Correctly The First Time: A very talented artist Jason Leigh emphasized this to me, but yet I still never do it. I think I am helping my kids by not making things complicated but in the end they never understand the big picture. For instance, I never got into the nuances of when it is OK for little boys to pee outside, and now I have embarrassing barbarians who will drop trou anywhere.
3. Trust: Children are capable of more than we think. Before the New Deal outlawed child labor, kids could start working as early as age 3. Now we don’t let them get a job until they are 24. While my 5- and 3-year-old can’t even make their own bananas, my husband was cooking his own breakfast at age 4. (The story goes that upon discovering him making pancakes at the crack of dawn, my husband’s grandmother politely said, “Oh Honey, let me show you how to do that,” and made a couple for him. He silently waited for her to finish and then he picked up her plate, walked over to the trash can, dumped hers in and went back to doing it his way.)
OK. Now that I have my three guidelines, I'm giving myself three goals for this week.
- My 3-year-old needs to learn where his clothes are and to put them on himself. Shoes too.
- My 5-year-old needs to be able to make himself something for breakfast in the morning.
- Both kids need to get their own bath towel every night and hang it up themselves.
If you are like me and find yourself doing things for your kids long after they should be doing it for themselves, maybe you can pick a few things this week to try to improve also. I will let you know next week how it went for me, and hopefully you can comment on how it went for you.
FULL SOURCE: dunedin.patch.com/articles/my-independence-day-freedom-from-over-parenting