I know. I’ve done it, too. We all have. Your child faces some difficulty, and you jump in right away to rescue them. To stand up for them. To make things right. You talk to a teacher. You handle things with their friend. You call their coach.
We need to resist this temptation to handle things for our kids.
Of course there are times we need to stand up for and defend our children. At times, we need to be absolutely fierce in doing so. But more often than not, we advocate for our kids when they should advocate for themselves.
It reminds me of that old saying: “Give a man fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” That makes so much sense, but when it comes to our kids, it’s hard not to spring into immediate action when we see them being treated unfairly or struggling in some way.
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But here are four main reasons to allow our kids to advocate for themselves:
1. Self-Advocacy Is a Crucial Skill
When we step in and handle a child’s problem, we short-circuit her opportunity to learn how to address a difficult issue. Having to visit with a teacher or address a problem with a friend can be a powerful learning opportunity. Give your child the benefit of getting practice using her voice and her logic. Teach her to assert herself, and to understand that she can be both respectful and strong. (And of course, you can always go with your child for support if she needs it.)
2. Discomfort Can Be a Good Thing
Even as you teach your children to assert themselves, remind them that it’s actually a good thing to have to do things that are difficult and that make them feel uncomfortable. To have to deal with a challenging situation, and to come out successful on the other side, is a great way to build resilience and confidence. Plus, it makes them Continue Reading »
The other day a reporter asked me to respond to a few questions about spoiling, and what it means for our kids. With the holidays coming up, this seems like a pretty timely subject. Here’s how I answered the reporter’s questions about what spoiling is, and just as importantly, what it’s not.
WHAT IS SPOILING? DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH MONEY SPENT? TIME? NEVER SAYING NO? ALL OF THE ABOVE?
Let’s start with what spoiling is not: Spoiling is NOT about how much love and time and attention you give your kids. You can’t spoil your children by giving them too much of yourself. In the same way, you can’t spoil a baby by holding her too much or responding to her needs each time she expresses them.
SO HOW DO WE SPOIL OUR KIDS?
The dictionary definition is “to ruin or do harm to the character or attitude by overindulgence or excessive praise.” Spoiling can of course happen when we give our kids too much stuff or spend too much money or say yes all the time. But it’s more than that. It’s also about giving them the sense that the world and people around them will serve their whims.
Again, it’s impossible to spoil children with too much nurturing or love or attention or time. Nurturing your relationship with your child or giving them a sense that they are entitled to your love and affection (or holding them when they’re little) is exactly what we should be doing. In other words, we let them know that they can count on getting their NEEDS met.
Spoiling, on the other hand, occurs when parents (or other caregivers) create their child’s world in such a way that the child feels Continue Reading »
Toddlers and preschoolers see their grown-ups and older siblings doing everything so easily. It can be frustrating and discouraging for these little ones to try and try, and not be able to do what they see everyone else doing.
Knowing that self-esteem can come from being competent at something, there are several ways we can empower our toddlers and preschoolers and give them opportunities to feel capable and competent:
Let them do things for themselves.
Sometimes it’s hard for a parent not to step in and quickly do something a child is trying to do. Especially if the child is taking a long time to, say, figure out how all of the chalk pieces will go back into the box. (Sometimes I want to pull my hair out when I’m watching my own four-year-old meticulously try to fix the Velcro fastener on the back of his Continue Reading »