Welcome to the generation of over-parenting! Now there’s nothing wrong with loving your kids too much, I’m uploading 17 pictures of my children to Facebook right now :), but when it interferes with a child learning their independence we have a problem. We want our children to function and thrive in society. By doing everything for them, you’re actually hindering their decision making. Children thrive when we place responsibility and trust in their decision making. Children, just like adults, want to feel needed.
If you’re thinking I’m guilty of this, don’t feel bad I was too! I did all the cooking and cleaning, dressed each kid, tied their shoes, brushed their teeth, combed their hair, bathed them… okay, I was very guilty! In fact, I rationalized it by saying, it’s just faster if I do it. Well, that was certainly true, but It wasn’t helping my children learn how to take care of themselves. The morning I realized I wasn’t helping them looked like this… me rushing around the house, late as usual. I worked at a hospital at the time, so being late wasn’t exactly acceptable. Here come the awful looks from people who have absolutely no idea what it’s like to have two toddlers at home. Lily sat up in her bed (eyes still closed) and threw her hands up as if to say, I’m up, the dressing may begin. So, I dressed her while she was still halfway asleep and moved on to the older still half way asleep child. Once dressed I asked them to find their shoes (they should make a homing beacon on those things) because I actually found one in the dog bed. We made it to the truck and I looked down. Makenna’s shoes still needed tying. Setting down all the things I had in my arms (coffee, purse, phone, day care bags, blanket pillows…etc.) , I began to tie her shoes. Makenna then said, ” All the other kids tie their shoes.” ….LIGHTBULB! I picked up my coffee, purse, bags, pillows, blankets and backed over my phone with my truck. At least I had my coffee.
So how do we place responsibility in their tiny little hands, start small. Believe it or not your kids will often rise to the occasion and a bit of failure never hurt anybody. Our kids now make dinner (with assistance of course, (I’m not giving a 4yr old sharp knives), keep their own room and have chores around the house. I’m not saying it’s fast or particularly as neat as I would get it. But I will say, I drink less coffee and I’m not running around like a crazed lunatic every morning. The most important part, my kids are much happier than they were before. They are proud of their work and take on responsibility even when they aren’t asked.
This is another big reason why camp is so important. Kids learn to take responsibility in a safe nurturing environment. Learning independence and responsibility in turn raises self worth. We hear this all the time from our camp parents, “After camp, my daughter now wants chores. She makes her bed every morning and helps out around the house.” Isn’t this exactly what we want for our kids? We want them to rise to the challenges life has out there for them. We want them to function and thrive in society with confidence. And most importantly, we want them to be HAPPY doing so.
Giving your kids tasks is a healthy way to teach responsibility. Plus it’ll help your sanity. 🙂
Have a Happy and Safe Weekend! Stay warm!!
Beth Rumbo and the rest of the Vista Team