Back to school sanity saver #7
#7 ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE
Busy parents who need to get things done quickly, often fall into the trap of keeping their children in a state of ‘learned helplessness’ because they do everything for their child instead of encouraging them to do things for themselves.
While it may be expedient for you, it doesn’t teach your child anything and can become positively disempowering. I hear remarkable things from teachers these days as a result of this:
- Children up to the age of 6 are still being carried into school
- Children up to the age of 7 are still being walked into the classroom by a parent and the parent is carrying their school bags
- Children have not helped to pack their own bags and therefore have no idea what is in them or where to find it and land up in a panic in class
- Children don’t know how to unpack their bags – it’s so bad in some instances that they don’t even know how to actually open their bags
- Children are battling to change for activities such as swimming practice because they don’t know how dress and undress themselves on their own, and they don’t have a clue how to roll up their towels and swimming costumes to pack away afterwards
- There are even children who don’t know how to feed themselves, I kid you not. And some have not even been taught how to chew (these are three and four year olds are not orphans and they are in expensive private schools – they have been fed mush because it was faster and easier than teaching them how to eat solids properly! Talk about sabotaging your child’s development.
These are just some examples of life skills that are not being passed on to children by their parents, and the knock on effect is that they are leaving their kids in the proverbial life skills lurch.
This year, give some thought to any tasks you are still doing for your child they that should be able to do for themselves. Are there any areas where you are consciously or unconsciously keeping your children in a state of ‘learned helplessness’? We all do it from time to time.
Commit to showing your children ‘how to’ at home. Start by getting them to do things with you and ultimately pass on the baton of responsibility to them to do things on their own, such as tidying up, washing up, stacking the dishwasher, making a sandwich or a glass of juice, and packing their school bags and sports kit.
By doing this you are giving them skills with which to navigate and interact with their world with confidence. You owe it to them!
At the same time, you are helping yourself because as they become more confident and able to do things for themselves, it frees you up physically, you don’t become a slave to your children, and you can send them out into the world knowing that they can cope, which reduces how much you worry about them. It will save your sanity in the long run.
The bottom line is: do you want a helpful, independent, ‘can do’ child, or a helpless, reliant ‘I can’t’ child who just doesn’t know how?