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Sometimes Children Need to Fail

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Posted on : 9:15 AM | By : Nic | In :


I am sick and in bed today and it made me realize how much I do stuff for my girls that they could do themselves.  It's not very 'continuum'.... continuum parenting dictates that you only do things for your kids that they need, which means relying on instinct rather than an emotional response.  For example, Autumn is four now and really wants me to continue to dressing her every day like a baby - but I know she can dress herself quite capably.  It's in my own emotional fear that I am letting her down in some way, or maybe I don't want to let go of her baby age, that has prevented me from saying no to her.

Growing up, like in many families, my parents didn't often allow me to fail.  I love them and I don't think it harmed me in any way because when I grew older and wiser I began to realize when they were letting me win a game or going behind my back to fix something that I wasn't doing very well.  They loved me, and hated seeing me disappointed.

But, in the long run, I think it did give me a big fear of failure, and it made it tough to deal with criticism.    Failure really isn't a big deal, and yet when a parent tries to constantly save their child from it, it sends a pretty big message. Ideally, if a child is allowed to fail now and then, and it is treated as no big deal, and then coached into trying again until success is achieved... they will obviously learn that failure is just a means to success.  Persistence, patience, confidence, fortitude - a multitude of positive character traits will follow.

This morning, not being able to get out of bed, I couldn't open the door of the bus for the girls.  Normally the bus door opens with air when the bus is running, but when it is off you have to shove it open and it gets stuck on this one spot.  It takes patience to figure out the trick and a willingness to exert some muscle early in the morning, but nothing two strong girls shouldn't be able to handle. I can't wait to put in a real door, but it is what it is.  I decided I wasn't going to kill myself to open a door for them that they could spend the time learning how to open, so I didn't.

A hundred screams and a couple buckets of tears, and about ten minutes later, the door opened.  The girls at first refused to work together.  4 and 7 do not like to do things together at the same time, and after heaving and shoving and yelling, "I can't!" they finally realized I was not going to pull myself out from under the covers and they opened the door.

Now, this did have repercussions for me... Autumn decided this was unacceptable and promptly peed her pants in protest.  But after opening the door they both got a huge confidence boost, got themselves dressed for the day, and then Annie cleaned up the bus and swept for me.  So sometimes... it is better as parent to just... do... nothing.

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