Have you ever had your kids ask to do something and you responded with something like one of the following:
- “There’s no time. I’ll do it.”
- “You’re not big enough/old enough.”
- “You might drop it! Let me do it for you.”
- “You might make a mistake/break something etc.”
The question may have been an offer to help in the kitchen, a wish to ride a bike somewhere, a desire to walk to school or to a friend’s house, to get a paper route, to start babysitting in the neighborhood or some other brand new idea that you weren’t prepared for.
Today’s generation of parents is being criticized for being overprotective, preventing their offspring from doing many things they’re capable of, from making mistakes and learning from them. In other words, many parents are preventing their kids from learning lessons that will serve them later in life. As you know, life is full of ups and downs. Kids need to learn how to handle them and what better place than the home front where they can be picked up and put back in the saddle when they fall off?
I think back to my own childhood, where my wonderful mother, so busy with raising five kids, never allowed help in the kitchen beyond setting the table and doing dishes. She must have felt that she could get things done faster and better, herself. The result of this was that I found myself in graduate school on the opposite side of the country, unable to do more than boil water! I was fortunate to have a roommate who knew how to cook and I gradually learned how to shop for food and follow recipes.
When my turn came to raise a family, I made sure to allow help, the first moment it was offered. Kids really want to help and have some great ideas. As a result, my kids grew up baking cakes, helping to make meals and doing many tasks that are required to run a household. They rode their bikes to the store to get something we needed. They shopped for items on their own and learned the value of money. As I allowed their help when they first had a spark of interest, and taught them what to do, we spent many marvelous hours together. Mistakes were made, food was spilled, and items were broken from time to time. But their desire to try new things flourished and was transferred into their adult lives. They bloomed with each accomplishment, their self-esteem growing with every success.
Step back and ask yourself, “What am I doing for my children that they can do for themselves?” “Am I providing too much help with homework?” “Am I shackling my kids with my own expectations of what they’re able to do?” “Am I restricting them because I’m afraid for them?”
Think about the valuable lessons your kids will learn as they try new experiences, succeed and sometimes fail. They’ll be stronger and more prepared for life’s challenges. It takes courage to step back, but you’ll be glad you did.
I have three new coaching programs to help parents learn new ways to solve everyday problems. Please check them out. Also, I hope you’ll download my free report on parenting without raising your voice.
Share this post