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Slow down and allow children to do things themselves

Joined: 11/9/2009
Posts: 2
Maria Montessori, a respected doctor at the beginning of the 20th century, turned educator, is known for saying “any unnecessary help is a hindrance to development.”

We’re in such a hurry today this belief is even more on point now then when MM philosophized about allowing our children to do things for themselves.

Assisting a child that wants to walk, button, put on shoes, coat, etc. holds back development, lowers self esteem.

That is not to say we don’t give lessons to show “how” to do something but taking the time to allow them the process of figuring it out when we’re in a constant rush is often difficult. The reward of allowing a child to to figure something out for herself is a child that feels good about him or herself.

Compliments won’t make a child’s self-esteem soar. Self-esteem comes from knowing you’ve accomplished something worth while.

Children know it takes them longer to button, or put on socks, to climb the steps etc. and when we take over they realize “it’s just not good enough.” Providing the time a child needs is a gift to your child’s internalized self-esteem.
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
I think this is the best parenting advice I have ever received. I think about the butterfly story Jan told on Back to School night at TLC. The well meaning little boy saw his "pet" butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon. He "helped" it out and the butterfly wasn't able to strengthen its wings properly and died.

I think as parents we try desperately to help our children when they struggle with something believing that we are doing what is best for them. What we don't realize is that children need the art of discovery; they need the struggle to figure the world out and learn.

In our busy blurs of well meaning help we often hinder progress and the natural learning through discovery that helps our children feel successful and important.

When I feel the urge to help my daughter I often think of the butterfly story and the quotation about unnecessary helping.

Thanks for posting!
Posted: Monday, November 9, 2009 7:26:21 PM
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Comment by shamaker

Joined: 7/6/2009
Posts: 131
I think this also applies to helping around the house. I have two older girls, now 7 and 5, who love fairy tales, especially ones about Cinderella (do you know how many versions of this story exist? Way more than you would have thought, but I digress).

Last year, the two of them told me they wanted to wash the floor like Cinderella. Now, I looked at my dirty kitchen floor and two eager little helpers. Did I say no? Am I crazy?

So I told them sure, they could do it once a week, after I cleaned the kitchen. Yes, they get water everywhere sometimes and I often have to mop behind them to get it up. But they do a decent enough job and have fun doing it. And they are learning to contribute to the family.

Children make mistakes and sometimes their "help" creates more work for us as parents, but if we continually say no to their offers of help, they will evenutally stop asking.
Posted: Monday, November 9, 2009 8:20:50 PM
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Comment by deweywells

Joined: 6/17/2009
Posts: 36
Amen! Childhood is not to be rushed. Mastery, like development takes time. As an early childhood teacher and parent, I find myself constantly pausing to allow children the time and space to try things on their own. It's hard, for sure, especially as you head out the door in the morning or try to fly through the grocery store. It's an investment....

Thanks for sharing!
Lisa Dewey Wells
Posted: Friday, November 13, 2009 6:41:23 PM
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Comment by Guest

Joined: 10/30/2008
Posts: 2,760
Slam dunkin like Shaquille O'Neal, if he wrote informative artilecs.
Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2011 1:04:38 PM
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