"As soon as independence has been reached, the adult who keeps on helping that child becomes an obstacle" declared Maria Montessori.
I love coming across a thought provoking quote. They always seem to be so timely as if someone's sending me a message or a helping hand. Reading this on the wall at Kindy this week was a good reminder for me to slow down and try to back off. In our modern way of parenting, where we are striving for perfection and control and fitting so much into every day, we allow very little time for children to take ownership of their responsibilities and to master even simple tasks.
For example, can you believe I am still putting on my Preppy's shoes and socks and helping him to dress after swimming lessons at school. In my mind I am making him comfortable for the day, having straight socks and the perfectly fitted shoe, not to mention saving time! But as I look around me and see many Prep kids putting on their own shoes and socks and getting much satisfaction from doing so, I realise I am depriving him of his own mastery and that 'over-parenting' can become an obstacle to their independence.
Are you a help or a hindrance? Very quickly I've realised my helping is a hindrance and I've thought of a few ways I can encourage independence and the opportunity of mastery at home.
1. Have the kids drink bottles named, filled up and in the fridge door so no-one is yelling out for 'a drink please'.
2. Have the kids clothes available and organised into categories so they can dress themselves for school, weekends, bed-time etc.
3. Have a place for the kids to put their schoolbag and belongings after school. This helps to get all the gear out of the car and packed away.
4. Have evening tidying up time in the playroom or bedroom so they share the activity and take pride in a clean and organised space.
5. Give them a job like helping to unpack the dishwasher, setting the table for dinner, or helping to prepare some part of the family meal, so they feel that they are contributing to the running of the family.
6. You could even do a rough drawing of what you expect your child to do at certain times of the day. For the morning routine you could draw images of brushing teeth, getting dressed, making their bed, putting on shoes, getting out their school bag etc....
Here is a link to a great article confirming confidence is built on competencies. It goes further in suggesting that the current approach to bringing up children may be stifling our little ones sense of adventure.
"That notion of being able to look after yourself and developing those basic competencies of life is the first step in developing real confidence and self-esteem".