The Importance of Spending Time in Teaching Kids HOW To Do a Task Rather Than Doing It For Them.

As kids learn to take responsibility for age appropriate tasks, they are also learning to feel capable and confident (which in turn increases learning ability). This was strongly reinforced for me this week as I was observing a just -3 –year- old picking up her crayons and coloring book and putting them back on their shelf. Her grandmother asked her if she wanted some help, to which she replied, “No, I’ve got this.” Totally confident that she could do it. What a marvelous feeling!

This event brought to mind another episode; this one with a 4-year-old in preschool. During the first week of school, her teacher had tried each day to have her zip up her jacket, and each day she just stood and cried, saying she couldn’t do it. About the 3rd day of school, Amanda was having a complete meltdown, screaming “Mommy always zips my jacket. I’m only 4 you know.”

The teacher asked her to look at the other children who were zipping up their jackets, and she said, “Amanda, all the other children are only 4 too, and they’re zipping their own jackets.” Amanda watched in silence and then tried her own zipper. With the teacher’s help in showing her how to do it rather than doing it for her, she was able to do it. She smiled and on the way out to recess, was telling everyone, “I can zip my own coat now.”   Instead of feeling helpless, she now felt capable, thus proud of herself.

When we parents, teachers, or grandparents do something for a child, that s/he is capable of learning to do on his own, we rob them of self- esteem. Our job is to teach our children and adolescents HOW to do a job, not to do it for them whether it’s putting away toys, feeding the dog, mowing the lawn, or any of the other responsibilities our children and adolescents are developmentally ready to take on.

Copyright 2018 Judy Harmon Holmes & Marian Burns

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