earned-helplessness-klein-spring-montessori

Are we Teaching our Children to be Helpless?

As parents, we want to do everything we can to help our children learn and grow. We want to shield them from the harsh realities of the world. However, are we doing too much and in turn, teaching our children to be helpless?

Think for a moment about your daily routine with your children. Do you initiate activities or do they? Who chooses what they eat at meals? Who cooks those meals? Who picks out their clothes? Who gets them dressed? Who makes sure they’re out the door on time for school or playdates or whatever they need to do? Who packs their lunches or does their laundry, so they have clean clothes for school?

These activities are often parent-led, especially for our youngest children, those under five. It’s understandable, young children need help, they need direction, and as most of us know, they move at a snail’s pace. If you’re trying to get somewhere on time, it may feel easier to do everything yourself so that you know you’re out the door on time but is that what’s best for your child in the long run?

By doing so much for our children, are we teaching them to be dependent upon us and helpless? Will they grow into the people they’re supposed to be, move away, and become successful adults or will they continue to look to us to solve their life’s issues?

When we do so much for our children, we’re not teaching them how to think for themselves or take care of themselves. Care of self is a big principal within Montessori education because it’s through the care of self that children learn how to function and live independently.

Our care of self and practical life lessons are designed to help children become independent. They learn how to button and unbutton their clothing, how to work zippers, how to comb their hair, how to wash their hands, how to tie shoelaces, and more. Are you teaching your children how to do these things for themselves or are you doing it all for them at home?

It takes children time to learn how to take care of themselves and sometimes, they struggle a bit and as a parent, it can be hard to watch your child struggle. However, the struggles can lead to the biggest moments of accomplishment for children. When they get something they’ve been working on for a while, they’re so proud. When we do everything for them, they miss out on these opportunities. Yes, it’s often faster and easier for us to do things for them but we’re teaching them to be dependent upon us not independent.

We need to take a step back and let our children struggle a little so that they can learn and grow.

Rather than being frustrated by a child who’s moving slowly or getting something wrong, try to breath and look at the big picture. What is this child trying to learn right now? How can you help them so that they can do it on their own?

Maybe it’s an excellent time for a lesson. Show children how the process works but don’t do it for them. Show them how to do what they need to do and then have them do it themselves. Yes, it’s going to take a little longer than it would if you took over, but in the long run, your child will benefit much more.

We need to stop doing so much for our children and empower them to do more independently before we teach them to be completely helpless. Wouldn’t it be nice to know they could take care of some things on their own and only come to you when they needed help rather than it being their first response to any adversity? It can be this way when you teach them how to do things on their own.