Every Day Is Independence Day!
Beginning at about the age of three, children start asking us to help them learn independence. They want to discover how to do things on their own without adult supervision or permission. Even though at times we feel we have to help children constantly, in reality, children are asking us to help them to help themselves. In our hurried world, it’s often easier to complete a task ourselves than to stop and show our children how to do it and patiently wait as they complete it. Even though it may be tempting or expedient to interfere and do something for your child, it is so important to wait that extra moment to allow him or her to do it. If possible, plan ahead so that you give your child the time put on her shoes, button her coat, or pull up her zipper before you leave home. This shows a great respect for the child’s pace and rhythm. As soon as the child is able to independently complete a task (i.e. zipping a coat), the adult who keeps doing it for him becomes an obstacle to his development. This, of course, does not mean that we stop observing and helping when the child has a true difficulty. Outwardly, the adult is passive, but inwardly, observant and active, seeing what difficulties may arise and being available to help when it is really needed.
“Help me to do it myself” is the young child’s cry for the independence that leads to true confidence and dignity. Dignity comes with the ability to care for oneself, give help to others and care for the environment. Self confidence, deep, solid and true self esteem, comes from the child’s own ability to reach and learn. Don’t do for your child what they can do for themselves. Remember, any unnecessary help is an obstacle to a person’s independence. We must try to remember to encourage independence so that the child may experience that sense of joy, that delight, that sense of accomplishment that comes from being able to say “I did it!”