It is our job as parents and teachers to teach our children how to be self-sufficient and independent.  And I cannot stress this enough.  Much of the work we do in this classroom and the school are self-help skills.  The kids clean up after themselves, they put on their own shoes and coats and clothes when needed, they have classroom jobs that aren’t always easy and are significant to the success and livelihood of the classroom.

We expect the kids to be responsible for their own things and their own work, which includes packing it up and taking it home with them.  When I think about how to help kids be successful and achieve these  expectations, I think of what they need to reach our mutual goals:  shoes and coats they can put on themselves, backpacks to pack home their work, encouragement and high expectations from both the teacher’s and the parents.  Kids will rise to the expectations we set, otherwise they will let us do everything for as long as we’re willing.  But this does not create learning, independence or self-reliance.

As a parent I had to learn this the hard way, so I’m extra sensitive to how we teach our children to think and act for themselves and how to not become enablers as parents.  As a parent of a child with special needs, I often thought that she couldn’t do it, so I had to do it for her.  This was so not the case and I became resentful and she became dependent and eventually she lacked the confidence to even try.  Instead the goal was manipulating me into doing everything.  So, I’m on the path to self-success for us all.

We HAVE to let our kids struggle, even though it is sometimes the hardest part of parenting and teaching.  We want to help and do and take care of.  But sometimes the “help”, is really what is keeping our kids from being the confident, self-motivated beings we are hoping they become.

I read the following piece and just had to pass it on…

It is Not Your Job to Make Your Children Happy

By Jane Nelsen

If you believe it is your job to make your children happy, it is likely that they will believe you—and insists that you do? Instead of learning that they can be capable, they may develop the belief that they are “entitled.”

The story of the little boy and the butterfly may help you understand how rescuing children from all suffering creates weakness.  A little boy felt sorry
for a butterfly struggling to emerge from its chrysalis. He decided to help so
he could save the butterfly from the struggle. So he peeled the chrysalis open
for the butterfly. The little boy was so excited to watch the butterfly spread
its wings and fly off into the sky. Then he was horrified as he watched the
butterfly drift to the ground and die because it did not have the muscle
strength to keep flying.

It is important that parents do not make children suffer, but sometimes it is helpful to “allow” them to suffer with support (empathy).For example, suppose a child “suffers” because she can’t have the toy she wants. Allowing her to suffer through this experience can help her develop her
resiliency muscles. She learns that she can survive the ups and downs of
life—leading to a sense of capability and competency. The support part is that
you validate her feelings and/or show understanding. Then skip the lectures and
have faith in your child to handle it.

Some helpful links:

Sound Discipline

Positive Discipline

Encouraging Solutions

Ready!  Set!  Go!