Do less for your children

Many of us parents feel that our children need a great deal of help, from tying shoelace through to brushing teeth ‘properly’. But in terms of building your child’s skills and confidence, this will have a negative impact.

Often, parents will do things for children because it takes less time and is easier on themselves, myself included.

So, before you bend down to do the shoelace, or pay for the cake, consider what would happen if you let your child to do it.

Let us take a cafe as an example. If the parent goes to get the cake, the result is that the child accepts that if you want something, you ask daddy or mummy and you get. It is easy. So just keep asking..

However, if you say, you can have a cake, but have to get it yourself, the dynamic changes, and new  learning opportunities present themselves. Lets say mum encourages her 5 year old daughter Mary to purchase her own slice of cake. The results are:

Mary can improve her Maths
There is no better reason to count than figuring out how much money you need to buy something. Give Mary your wallet and ask her to count out the exact change she needs to buy that piece of cake.

Mary can build her confidence
By having to go up to the till/counter herself, Mary takes ownership of the situation. She has to ask an unfamiliar adult for something. To communicate effectively, she will need to speak clearly to be heard over the background din, as well as listen and respond to questions such as “Which slice of cake did you want?”.

Mary can check her own thinking
The wait in the queue gives her time to double check the price of the item, and check the money she has is sufficient. After all, no one wants to be at the the till and find they have the wrong change.

Mary can improve her reading skills
It gives her time to read what else is available, and perhaps consider what she could afford next time, or if she wants to change her mind.

Mary learns to be increasingly independent
Armed with the knowledge that she can count money and talk to others confidently, Mary has just set herself up to explore the world around her. She looks forward to the next challenge!

Allowing children the freedom to explore the world we live in is important. By letting children make and learn from mistakes, use practical, everyday problem solving skills independently, and think/communicate for themselves, we can arm our children with the confidence they need to become free thinking, confident adults.