Monday, August 17, 2009

Look! I Did it Myself! Teaching Children Independence

There is nothing sweeter than watching a child master a skill and know it. Whether it’s potty training, learning to put on a jacket by himself, tackling cutting skills, or understanding that blue and yellow make green each and every time, that ‘ah-ha’ moment is priceless. Of course, it takes lots of practice for most kids to master something new, and there are usually missteps along the way. Oftentimes, the child gets frustrated when a new task is difficult, yet learning perseverance is also part of the equation.

Sure, as parents we are all busy and there are many times when it is just easier for us to do things for our kids, instead of watching the painstaking process of them learning a new skill by themselves. But, ultimately, they must learn, and it often takes lots of practice to get it right.

According to Jean Thomas, MD, MSW, a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at both The Children’s National Medical Center and The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, who is internationally known for early childhood diagnosis and treatment strategies, “Self-confidence grows from feeling your successes, and this is true in young children, older children, and adults. If we’ve done a good job at work, we’ve had a good day and feel proud of ourselves, and we know a little bit more about we’re going to do the next day. We’ve honed our skill. It’s the same thing for the child who has so many things new to learn. Pride motivates all of us to try harder and succeed again.”

With that in mind, give your child the time and patience he needs when figuring something out for the first time. When he gets it right, you will both be proud of his independence.

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