Independence is budding at my house like the bright, yellow jonquils in the front yard. I have a toddler and a tween. Both ages are often characterized by a desire for more independence while lacking the skills to pull it off. Just like those harbingers of springtime who warm in the promise of the sun and recoil from the remaining winter winds, my kids vacillate quickly between “I can” and “I can’t.”
The toddler fights to do everything himself. He wants to buckle himself in the car seat, open his box of raisins, and pour his own milk. When I do not let him try, he loses his mind and proceeds to demonstrate his frustration in a toddler tantrum. When he tries and cannot succeed, he might ask for help or drop to the floor and put on a show. When he is able to do that hard thing all by himself, he practically glows with pride as he declares, “I did it!”
Big sister is fighting for independence on another front. Great ideas pop in her brain like popcorn kernels in hot oil. This kid, along with her best friend, developed a t-shirt fund-raising campaign for a mission project. They contacted the shirt company and started taking orders without any adult counsel or involvement. I was simultaneously proud and alarmed when she started bringing twenty dollar bills home for Project Nicaragua (the name they gave their campaign). She faltered a bit in the execution and I paid for a few extra shirts because of it. I was stuck between cheering her on and capitalizing on this teachable moment.
Our kids can do more than we think they can. They can do more than they think they can. As they inch toward independence, our kids will vacillate between confidence and insecurity. They declare, “I will do it myself!” one minute and call for help the next. How can we encourage our kids to do the hard things?
Read the rest of Encourage Your Child to Do Hard Things at ChristianParenting.org.
Photo credit: Laith Abuabdu via Unsplash.