Why is it so hard to let kids try?
They say a child who is always caught when they fall learns to fall with their arms UP, versus a child who is allowed to fall, who learns to catch herself by falling with her arms DOWN, toward the ground. So, if as parents we know that it is instinctually better to let our kids do something on their own, even if they fail, then why is it so darn hard to just let them try? This is one of the hardest parenting lessons I am learning, so I decided to think about why it’s so hard for me. Here’s what I came up with. Feel free to add your ideas/thoughts in the comments too.
It seems I am always in a rush. There is always some chore to be done, or some important task to take care of. And, honestly, watching my toddler struggle with his T-shirt for ten minutes just aggravates my already stressed internal clock. Can you relate to this? I’m sure many moms can. After all, we have SO much on our plates already in caring for these little humans. But as I reflect on this, it almost makes me sick. What task could be more important than teaching my son the all important life lesson of resilience and problem solving? This is a skill that builds over time, not one we can “catch up on” when it's convenient. Yikes.
2. Wanting to Rescue
It’s hard to see your kids fail. Or stumble and get hurt. Often our knee-jerk reaction is to jump in and save them. It’s only natural and after all, it shows how much we care. Right? Wrong. According to Jane Nelsen, Author of the popular Positive Discipline book series, rescuing our kids now can in many cases cause more hurt later. It’s better, she suggests, to allow them to suffer the effects of natural consequences before they fully enter the real world. It’s because of this philosophy that my husband and I started teaching our kids about consequences by telling them that it’s better to learn with us, in a safe environment, than later in life when they may not be surrounded by people who love them and want what’s best for them. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and a harder one to teach.
3. Avoiding Discomfort
I am a people pleaser. 100 percent. I also hate confrontation and discomfort and usually try to avoid it at all costs. My husband, on the other hand, will often try to “shake things up,” to keep our kids on their toes and teach them the same lessons under different stressors and different environments. Man, oh, man. This never gets easy. I would rather have a peaceful home all of the time, even if it means sweeping things under the rug occasionally. The only way I can adapt and get better here, is to tell myself that the mess is a good thing - and even the “bad” moments are great because they lead to teaching opportunities, which are always so sweet.
In the end, I realize that what my kids need most from me right now is to slow down, observe and allow them to try. That’s all. Just to sit back and let them try and fail, try again, learn and grow. It seems so simple but for me it is the hardest thing in the world. I plan to make this my focus over the next few weeks and I would love it if you would check in on me to see how I’m doing! Love to all. :)