Why I Let Kids Struggle

As a caregiver, when you see a child struggling, your first response might be to help. Or you might just have been watching your child struggle to complete the same task and you are OVER it. I mean, how long does it take to put on a jacket?!?! 

Sometimes, it's necessary to speed things along and give your child the assist. However, when the clock isn't ticking...I like to let them struggle. We've already talked about changing your vocab in order to give your child more of a can-do attitude. Letting your child struggle is just one more tier in that attitude change of being able to accomplish tasks. 

Lots of backwards clothes or unopened packages might occur but eventually you might cultivate an atmosphere where a Storm Trooper happily asks Darth Vader for some help.

Next time your child starts to struggle on a task, encourage them to keep trying. I usually like to say "You give it the first go then I'll give it a try." Sometimes, I'll purposefully fail on my turn in order to not only give them another go at it but to also show that sometimes even adults fail! It doesn't mean you have a tantrum, it doesn't mean that you whine, it means that you give it another try. Showing by example is one of the greatest teaching tools that a caregiver has. Sometimes, your child will try and try and not be able to get it. That's OK! In those situations, after they've given it an honest try, help them out! Make sure that you give them the opportunity to ASK for help. I won't even respond to grunts or whines or cries. It's better to not jump the gun and wait until your child has hit that point where they come up to you and specifically ask for help. They might need some guidance the first couple times and you can politely say "It sounds like you're having a bit of trouble. Let me know if you need any help and I'll be happy to show you how to do it!" Once they've asked for help, make sure that you SHOW them how to accomplish the task - explain what you're doing, how you're doing it, and why you're doing it. 

Remember that sometimes, it might take your child 20 minutes to put on his pants the right way. Allot for that time, grab a cup of coffee, and take a moment for yourself. I've found that for certain tasks, like dressing, it's easier if I'm not there. My 3 year old and I have hit that point where he knows how to get dressed but he gets distracted if I'm there, being silly and purposefully putting clothes on wrong. Knowing that, I usually send him into his room with the instructions to get dressed while I do some chores in the kitchen. I always remind him that he can ask for help if he really needs it but that I'm super excited to see what he chooses to wear and to see if he can do it all by himself! Yes, half the time, he comes out with his pants on backwards or an arm sticking out of the neck hole of his shirt but half the time - he comes out, perfectly dressed and feeling confident! 

What are the tasks you happily let your child struggle with? What are some big accomplishments they've achieved through that struggle?