Have you been in this situation where you have asked your child to do something that’s difficult or unpleasant. Maybe it’s a new chore at home. Instead of meeting that challenge, your child might sulk, get angry, or otherwise act out.
It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? It makes sense that we are tempted to jump in and just do the thing that’s causing our child’s frustration. It’s faster, less stressful, and seems like the right choice at the time. Until the next time. When they still haven’t learned to do it themselves.
Think back to when your child was learning to walk. If you picked them up and carried them every time they fell down, they would never learn to walk. Why face the challenges of learning something new, if someone will take the frustration away from you? Why learn new life skills if you can get someone else to do the heavy lifting for you?
It’s the same as our children get older: if we remove their struggles, we actually prevent them from learning the skills they need to become successful, independent adults in the real world.
If you want your child to grow into a responsible, effective adult, able to overcome adversity in their own life, the good news is: you can stop working so hard. Instead of doing things for your child when you see them struggling, encourage them to come up with some possible solutions. If they’re frustrated when doing something difficult or unpleasant – like cleaning up after themselves– don’t jump in and do it for them. Walk them through it with your words. If you’ve already done that, act as their coach by prompting them with the next step. For example, you might say, “I hear that you’re frustrated with the thought of cleaning up your mess. This is something you need to learn. First you pick the clothes up off the floor and into the hamper. What’s the next step?”
By breaking it down and encouraging your child to push through their frustration, you’re actually assisting them in a very effective way – even though they might not see it that way. Remember, your coaching now helps create a person who can clean up after themselves instead of waiting for someone else to do it.
Remember, by doing this you will be encouraging the development of a responsible, self-confident, capable child who is able to make effective and successful choices in the real world.