"They grow up so fast" is a phrase we hear way too often and rightly so. Your infant is now a toddler who can run, climb and jump. Your 8 year old is off to his first summer camp, your tween is now a teenager waving goodbye to you and is off to college.
At every age and stage parents are thinking "How did my baby grow up so quickly?"
It's tough for us to watch our children grow up and move on, but that's the natural order of things. And we as parents are obligated to equip our children with independence so they can thrive as self sufficient adults.
It's easy for us to get stuck in a cycle where we help our children dress up, get their shoes on, carry their bags, feed them etc. Helping them is convenient and sometimes important to maintain the momentum of the day. It's quicker for us to do simple tasks ourselves, rather than letting them try. Who has the time, right? We can't bear to watch children struggle, so we offer them help before they even ask for it. Some of us even enjoy doing things for children because they are babies and they need the pampering. We hire support to do everything for our children because staff are 'supposed' to. But did you know that helping a child with a task that they can do by themselves is more detrimental than beneficial?
We're unintentionally robbing our children off of the critical skills that will help them succeed in our absence. I have seen children as old as 6 and 7 years who are unable to open a ketchup bottle, button their shirts or even grip a pencil to doodle. They lack co-ordination, finger muscle strength and decision making skills. They do not understand that things need to be kept in order. Such children wait for help or support from another adult or their peers.
When you help your child with simple tasks remember that you're accidentally conveying the message that they CAN'T do things on their own. This may continue well into their adulthood where they might fear unfamiliar tasks rather than handling challenges with confidence. Have you seen adults struggle to make simple decisions? Have you heard people say "I can't decide what to buy for myself, what do you think?" This can be attributed to caregivers making every single decision for them in their childhood. We unintentionally raise dependent and insecure children who may never be certain of themselves.
With all this information at your disposal would you as a caregiver take the concious effort to raise independent children who will grow up to be confident adults?
"If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on their way to independence " - Maria Montessori