I have been working with some quite privileged children lately. Well they are privileged in some ways. They are paupers in other ways.
For example, their families have maids for each child. No, I do not mean nannies….I mean ‘maids’. These maids do not contribute to the social development of the children, but merely ‘do’ everything for them. If they use something, the maid puts it away. If they need clothes, the maid gets them. If they are off to school, the maid carries their bags and hands it to the ‘driver’ who takes them to school.
Needless to say, these children come to deal with the world almost in a passive way. They are not responsible for making things happen in their daily lives, and yet they go without nothing.
Now you would think that they might have an elevated view of themselves. But they don’t. In fact, they are hugely lacking in self-esteem and this is what I want to talk about today.
Our children need to be given responsibility even if it’s for no other reason than to provide them the opportunity to discover their own potential. If that were the only benefit, then it would be enough reason. But it’s not the only benefit.
By allowing our children to have to put effort into the daily-ness of life, things like picking up their own clothes, making their own bed, clearing the table after a meal etc., we enable them to feel like we think they are capable, as well. It’s beautiful. Children need their parents or guardians to recognize them for their efforts, (not so much their achievement…that comes later….first comes effort).
Thinking well of yourself is one thing, but when it is confirmed by those around you it carries the weight that gives you conviction.
And isn’t that what we want? Don’t we want young children who are absolutely convinced of their own strengths and abilities, who don’t waste any of their developmental years feeling insecure and inadequate?
So next time your child wants you to carry their school things, remind them that they are able-bodied young people who can do this for themselves. Let them pick up their own rooms, before you go in and ‘fix’ it. Let them feel like they did it. They need to feel proud of themselves for ordinary things. And don’t forget to recognize their efforts. Don’t criticize the job they do. Simply find something to praise. Even a child with lazy tendencies will strive harder if they know there will be some praise.
Children love you to look them in the eye admiringly. They need this from you. They can’t get too much of this kind of attention. It makes them feel so good about themselves.
Think about the adults you know. Which of them would you say actually feel good about themselves? Have you ever known an adult who you thought had a lot more potential than what their lives were reflecting? Have you ever wondered why?
It’s because somewhere along the line, the adults in their life when they were a child, failed to praise them and to recognize their efforts and their strengths.
Let’s not do that to our own children. Give them opportunities to perform and to succeed and to fail. Some children don’t attempt things because they are afraid to fail. But if the adults in their life would praise their effort, then they will come to look at failure another way and not be intimidated by the thought of failing at something.
This may seem like a ridiculously small thing…but in the scheme of your child’s life, this is actually one of the most important ‘gifts’ you can give your child.
I feel sorry for the seemingly ‘privileged’ children I have been working with. After all, it seems they are actually ‘under’-privileged.
Talk Back to me. I want to hear what you think some of the other benefits of allowing your child to strive, might be. Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the parenting world.