I can sum up your job description in just a few words: you are there to make sure that your children know they are totally loved no matter what, while keeping them safe from harm. Your job is to achieve the goal of a responsible and self-sufficient person.
Oddly enough, children need much less participation in their endeavors than you might think and as a matter of fact, it is too much “help” that slows your child’s development not the other way around. Every time you push that toy a little closer so baby doesn’t have to reach as far, every time you get up from the table to retrieve a food item that your toddler has dropped or forgotten on the sink, you are actually inhibiting potential growth. Contrary to what you might think, making things “easier” for little Johnny or Suzie is the worst possible thing you can do if you want confidence and maturity in a child.
But how can this be? And why is it that the biggest mistake you will ever make is doing too much for your youngster? Aren’t we supposed to help our kids? The answer is yes, of course! But doing things for him that he can do for himself is the biggest confidence killer there is.
Take a gymnastics coach. Have you ever heard of these folks shoving a student aside and doing the routine themselves and then winning a medal? Of course not. How about the piano teacher dumping the child off the bench and proceeding to hammer out a flawless rendition of a difficult piece of music to win great applause from all the parents at the recital. Doesn’t happen. The teacher’s success is gauged by how well the student does all on his own. This is true of parents too: your child’s success is all about how he does independently of you.
What would it do to the self-esteem of the little gymnastics student with dreams of a gold medal in her heart were her coach to shove her aside and show her how it’s really done? How about the piano student who gets preempted?
In essence, every time you do something for your child that he can do on his own, you are embedding an insidious thought process that reads something like this: “mom can do it better than I can…” or: “I’m too little to do it right…” etc. Unfortunately, once this thought process starts, it keeps continuously running and even growing like a cancer until your child is convinced that he or she must rely on the bigger, better people to get it right.
And that is the confidence killer.
Sure, it takes good planning and diligence to play that fine line between doing too little and too much. But, with a little bit of focus combined with what you already know about your child, I have total confidence that you already have a pretty good idea of how it’s done.