Many times without realizing it, parents do tasks for their children when the child is perfectly capable of doing it himself. Often, parents do not think their child is capable of a task or they do not have the patience for the child to complete it. However, children are almost always more capable then we think they are. For example, maybe your child knows how to tie his or her shoes but you tie it for him anyway. This is dis-empowering to the child and gives the message to the child that what she is doing is not good enough. In addition, doing tasks for your child gives the message that parents must do everything for the child. Obviously, there are things children cannot do for safety and developmental reasons. However, if the child is developmentally able to do something and you still are doing the task for a child, ask yourself: Are you helping your child become an empowered adult or are you teaching your child to be helpless?
Furthermore, when children do things for themselves, they feel a sense of accomplishment. Children want to be able to do things on their own. “When kids learn to do things for themselves, they’re developing a positive self identity, and it makes them feel competent and worthy” (Seymour). When adults constantly give directions to a child, the adult is implying that he or he knows better than the child. This eventually leads to low self esteem in the child, as they perceive adult directions as criticism. When coddled children become adults, they still carry the same mind-set that parents should do everything for them. As adults, these children “often act irresponsibly, aren’t able to handle uncomfortable emotions well, float without goals, become ill a lot, can tend to become addicted to substances, ask for advice when they need to figure things out for themselves and get others to always help them” (Pincus). However, if parents develop self-sufficiency at a young age, children will carry this independence into adulthood.
These phrases send the message to a child that he or she is not capable of doing things on their own. Avoid these phrases with children:
- “Let me get that for you.”
- “I’ll do it. Don’t worry”
- “Let me do that.”
- “I’ll fix it for you.”
- ”That’s too hard for you. You can’t do it.”
Phrases you can use instead:
- “I know you can do it! Try.”
- “You can do it yourself.”
- “What are the solutions you see?”
- “Try your best!”
- “You are capable of finding your own solutions.”
Here are some things around the house that young children (3-4) are developmentally capable of:
- Picking up toys
- Putting shoes away
- Hanging up their back packs
- Putting on clothes with some help
- Sorting socks
Little chores around the house are big accomplishments for your child!