Monday, June 28, 2010

Picking up the Spoon

I've been thinking a lot about how I can foster my kid's independence and help prepare them for life. It's so easy to fall into the habit of taking care of your kids by doing everything for them. And frankly, sometimes letting them 'help' often takes more time and clean-up than it's worth. But's it's an important part of my job and I've got to change my attitude. My oldest is six and I know it's me that's holding him back from doing more for himself and his siblings. I really like how the book "Nature the Nurture" puts it:

A child's individual core nature finds meaning through responsibility. A child "means something" because he or she must act meaningfully.
A six-year-old child drops a spoon on the floor.
The mother bends down to pick it up.
The child thanks her and keeps eating.
What does the child learn about why he is alone in that moment? The child learns that he is alive to eat and to continue eating. Because his parent has picked up the spoon, the child is not alive in that moment to get out of his chair, bend down to the floor, clean up a mess in the world and return it to order. He has lost this opportunity to mean something, to be purposeful. He merely eats.
The mother has perhaps made meaning and purpose for herself, but doesn't give her child the opportunity to find purpose in this little moment.

K, it's a bit over the top, but I totally get it. In fact I was picking up the kids the other day and I saw a bunch of school kids exiting their gym after an assembly. Each of them was carrying a chair back to their classroom. This completely blew me away! I know, it doesn't take much to impress me. But all of this independence stuff was swimming around in my head and here these kids were carrying their own chairs to the gym. Don't wait for a custodian to wait on you -- if you want somewhere to sit, bring your own chair. Brilliant.

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