Today i’m going to talk about independance. Not the Declaration of Independance, but the independance of toddlers and kindergarteners (as in doing things on their own). I keep calling my son a toddler when he is, in fact, a kindergartener now. He is almost 5 years old, and though i started teaching him everything at the age of 2, he is still struggling with independance.
We want our children to grow up and become independant and yet we mourn the people they were at every milestone. As a child learns and grows, they change. Personality isn’t set in stone until a certain age, but we can’t mold our children to become who we want them to be. We can only direct them.
To help get my point across, i will share something that happened yesterday. I got my son plasticine, which is like play dough but it doesn’t make a mess. However, it is harder to cut than normal play dough.
So what happened is that i was playing with him when i realized he was making me do all the work. He would ask me to squeeze the play dough, flatten it, push the shape in and cut the shape out. When i realized he wasn’t doing anything, i asked him to do the cutting. He just started crying and saying “i can’t do it”. I was shocked. I’ve never heard him say these words. Or maybe i wasn’t paying attention. Let me tell you something, i did NOT raise my son to give up. This pessimistic attitude from him is new to me.
For the past year, he has been refusing to eat on his own, dress on his own, go potty on his own,… Etc. Although i taught him how to do all these things.
At 1st i thought maybe he likes a challenge, and once he learns how to do something, he gets bored of it and instead of adding it to his toolbox, throws it out and looks for the next thing to learn.
Then i thought maybe he has lazy tendencies. At least that is what his doctor said about him. After all, we are who people say we are, right? Wrong.
Ok maybe he does get bored easily, and maybe he is a bit lazy, but what am i to expect? Your environment has a lot of influence, and i have phases (a lot of them) where i’m easily bored and lazy. I’m always multitasking and i can’t just sit still. But this post isn’t about me.
Back to the playdough incident.
So how did i react to him crying “i can’t do it”?
Me: yes you can
Him: no i can’t. I don’t know how to cut with a knife.
Me: that’s because you’re holding the knife wrong. Here. This is how you hold a knife.
Him: *switches the knife the wrong way again* see? It won’t cut!
Me: Let me show you and you can copy me.
Him: *wailing and flailing* Noooo! I can’t do it. I TOLD YOU i don’t know how to cut. You do it for meeee.
Me: I didn’t learn how to cut playdough overnight. I was once small like you and i had to learn.
When that didn’t work, i said: You know when you were a baby, you didn’t know how to walk. You didn’t learn overnight either. When you were learning how to walk, you would lean on the couch, and if you let go, you would fall on the floor. But you still got up and kept trying, until you were able to stand on your own and then walk and now you can run.
When THAT didn’t work, i said: I have an idea. Didn’t you learn how to poke pencils into cardboard at school? You can try that. This looks like a pencil and you can use it to poke around the shape instead of cutting.
So he agreed, tried it, and it worked.
The reason why i got him this plasticine was as a reward for him doing things on his own for a week. Whether he has lazy tendencies or not, whether his environment affects him negatively or not, there are things that you need to notice when your child is still young and impressionable. You need to nip bad habits in the bud because the older the child gets, the harder it will be for them to get rid of their bad habits. Pessimism and laziness are bad habits. I’m not saying you should never feel lazy. We are all humans, and we should combat laziness through habit building, self motivation, and prayer. We aren’t going to be productive all the time, but as for the pessimism, once it becomes part of a persons character…OH MY GOD! It’s hard to get rid of. So if your child has an “i can’t do it” mentality, notice it and confront it. Help your child love themselves and believe in themselves by telling them “yes you can” and “keep trying” and “it’s ok to fail but don’t give up”.I hope i helped someone out there struggling with a similar issue. I hope i helped someone out there to pay attention more.
Good day. Good night. Live a meaningful life.