“Never do for a child what the child can do for themselves.” -Rudolf Dreikurs
I used to believe that solving my children’s problems was being a good mom … until I realized that I was stifling their growth. Doing things for your child that they can do for themselves hinders their ability to develop competencies and become self-sufficient.
Even at an early age, kids can work out solutions to their own problems — something I learned from the parent educator who taught the first parenting class I took with the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) in Kensington, Maryland. I was lamenting the fact that my 9-month-old was repeatedly crawling under a four-legged stool and getting stuck. Correctly surmising that I was annoyed at having to constantly help him out of his predicament, she said, “Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if you just let him stay there until he figured it out himself.” “I could NEVER do that,” I explained. “He would get frustrated and angry and cry!” She convinced me to try it and he did just what I predicted. But he also quickly figured out how to crawl back out from under the stool while I was encouraging him from a few feet away. He was so proud of himself!
Ever since then, I’ve explored research and collected anecdotes about the strategy of allowing kids to struggle (a bit). Does sparing a child from all of life’s struggles help or hurt them?