Too often as parents and teachers, we swoop in to rescue children instead of allowing them to experience the consequences of their behavior.

Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World

I can’t count the times I have said, “Here, just let me do it” to one of my children.  Usually when I am frustrated, tired, or just angry I become the kind of parent that would rather just fix whatever my children are struggling with than let them handle it themselves.

However, I know there is a better way.  I know that when I take over and rescue my children from consequences I am really saying this to them:

  • Let me do it because you can’t
  • You are not mature enough to handle this
  • You don’t know how to do this right
  • You’ll never figure it out

Instead of helping them to become more autonomous and capable, I make them feel vulnerable and weak.

It is especially hard for me to see my children struggle with their learning endeavors.  When Raven has a hard time figuring out a math concept I want to jump in and explain it to her.  But the lesson is better learned when I step back and let her figure it out.

You see, the difference is all in the approach.

Negative reactions, such as explaining, directing, and assuming are all control-based.  They are an attempt to manipulate the child into right thinking or right behavior.  These reactions never produce independence and responsibility but only feelings of dependence and inadequacy.

Positive reactions include encouraging, checking, and asking.  When one of the children is not doing the dishes correctly, I can ask them if they need help.  I can encourage them to do a better job.  If the dishes are still dirty, I can let them experience the consequences.  We either eat off dirty plates or they have to try again.

Sometimes it is hard to see our children fail.  We want to keep them from having to find out that they made a mistake or that they didn’t accomplish what they set out to do.

But never letting your children mess up means never allowing them to find a better way to try the next time.  It means never letting them learn from their mistakes.

It means having to control the situation rather than being a positive encouragement in their lives.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. -Ephesians 4:29

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