I have long stopped helping my kid. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about when he has a legit problem, like a flesh wound. I’m talking about those less than dire times.
When your child stares longingly at the fire pole, resist the urge to help. They will give you the sad eyes, and say in their pitiful voice, “I need help.”
Don’t do it.
Let them try. They need to know you believe in them, and will support them emotionally, but not physically. If they can’t figure out the ropes yet, too bad. They’ll be strong enough, soon. And you know what? When they end up scaling the rock wall by themselves, they will feel great. It will boost their confidence, and make your life much less annoying.
Because of our love for biking, my husband and I got our son his balance bike when he was 18 months. The first time he asked for help, I was delighted to oblige. Then, the vision of being hunched over, holding up this kid’s seat for the next 5 years set in.
We made the decision to be there to pick him up and dust him off. The rest was up to him. Fast forward to this month. Wouldn’t you know it, he has been asking for a pedal bike. He’s three and a half.
Pro-tip: Balancing, pedaling, and stopping are three different and distinct skills. If you have a pedal bike with training wheels, take them off. Take the pedals off, too. Balance is key. Also, consider taking off the coaster brakes, and installing hand brakes. They are easy to install, and will help build speed and confidence.
When it comes to helping our kiddos with building, cooking, understanding, or learning in general, we parents tend to take over. Face it, most of their things are fun.
Here’s the thing. Have you ever seen what your kid looks like when you take over their projects? They look like you just took over their project. Don’t do it. Let them experience the scientific process. Feel free to support your kiddo without taking over. Let them be the boss. Let them tell you what to do.
Keep the activities age appropriate.
We are a gaming family. We love board games and video games alike. We are definitely on board with the kiddo joining in on the fun.
That means no quarterbacking.
Teach them how to play the game, but don’t play for them. Don’t tell them where to put the puzzle piece, don’t tell them what card to play, and for Pete’s sake, let them take back moves. Be a teacher, not a gamer.
Play without being the parent
I love that my son can play independently, but I also welcome the time he wants me to join. It’s really fun. On those occasions, I turn off my mom brain and let my son take the lead. I will eat the imaginary cookies, fight the space monsters, and throw as many t-balls as he demands.
Playing is fun because even though I set the boundaries, I let my son make up the rules. Life is really good when you let yourself think like a kid.
I mention all these things to drive home this one point: when we let our kid own their failures, we let them own their successes. When they reach the top of that geodesic dome, build that asymmetric lego fire truck, or finish the airship level of Super Mario 3, they can say “I DID IT!” without any asterisk on their achievement.