Saturday, March 7, 2009

Confident Kids - Part 2

(Continued from February 28, 2009) ..... Of course, supervision is important to ensure that kids stay safe. But to help them really learn a new skill, it's also important not to hover. Give kids the opportunity to try something new, make mistakes, and learn from them.

For instance, if your son wants to learn how to make a peanut butter sandwich, demonstrate, set up the ingredients, and let him give it a try. Will he make a bit of a mess? Almost certainly. But don't swoop in the second some jelly hits the countertop. In fact, avoid any criticism that could discourage him from trying again. If you step in to finish the sandwich, your son will think, "Oh well, I guess I can't make sandwiches."

Ah, one of the most difficult tasks of all ….for a parent! You know that our child will make huge mistakes or messes, but it’s best to let him/her go for it. You can always clean up the mess, but you can’t always build confidence!

But if you have patience for the mess and the time it takes to learn, the payoff will be real. Someday soon he'll be able to say, "I'm hungry for lunch, so I'm going to make my own sandwich." You might even reply, "Great, can you make me one, too?" What a clear sign of your faith in his abilities!

One of the best feelings ever is when you child does something for you that he/she could not previously do for anybody – like making a sandwich!

Sometimes, it won't be you swooping in when your child falters, but your child giving up. Help by encouraging persistence in the midst of frustration. By trying again, kids learn that obstacles can be overcome.

Remember my bike story – I am not sure how my dad did it. I played sports fairly well, but the bike thing took quite a long time. However, he kept at it with me until I succeeded!

Once kids reach a goal, you'll want to praise not only the end result but also their willingness to stick with it. For instance, after your son has mastered making that peanut butter sandwich you might show your confidence by saying, "Next time, want to learn how to crack an egg?" Sandwich-fixing and egg-cracking might not seem like huge achievements, but they're important steps in the right direction — toward your child's independence.

Yes, by constantly setting the bar higher, you give our kids the opportunity to always strive higher for achievement with the confidence that they will succeed.

Throughout childhood, parents have chances to prepare kids to take care of themselves. Sure, it's great to feel needed, but as kids steadily gain confidence and independence, their relationship with you can be even richer. You can be bonded, not just by dependence, but by love and shared pride in all they've achieved. Eventually, your grown-up kids just might say thanks for how prepared they feel for the road ahead — a road they can take with confidence.

Yes, give your kids the chances to be successful, help and encourage them when the fail, lead them to victory, and then spur them on to bigger challenges and successes!

Your kids will love you forever for the time that you spent with them teaching them to be successful and CONFIDENT! So get that peanut butter and jelly ready - you can clean the mess later!

Paul W. Reeves

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