I’m surrounded with very wise people, who remind me through their words and actions that children are way better off learning life lessons themselves than having their parent swoop in and save the day.
For instance, rather than breaking up a sibling squabble and attempting to determine who’s in the right, when a parent overhears an argument, or (worse!) if one or both of the kids try to involve the parent, the parent should simply say something to the effect of, “Wow, it sounds like you two have some things to talk through. I know you’ll work it out.”
And if your kid forgets his lunch or homework on the kitchen counter, don’t drive it over to him. Let him deal with the consequences of not having what he needs at school, so he’s more apt to remember the next time.
She doesn’t want to wear her rain boots? Fine. She can wear her sneakers and discover what it’s like to walk around with soaked feet all day.
When the tactic of letting kids learn from their own experience becomes hard for me is when I feel my child is being taken advantage of, or manipulated.
It’s a fact of life that we’re all different; some of us possess stronger personalities than others. My younger daughter is naturally a peacemaker and a people-pleaser. She gets talked into things easily, and has a hard time saying “no”.
As a result, my daughter often finds herself pushed into situations, like amusement park rides she did not want to go on, attending sleepovers she really wasn’t in the mood for, or letting people elbow their way into special plans she’d made.
It’s hard for me not to butt in and take the pressure off her. I’m often within earshot and would not be shy about stepping in.
But I want my daughter to develop a thicker skin, and learn that having an uncomfortable conversation now can help avoid even more discomfort (and resentment) later.
I want her to not discount her own wants and needs in favor of someone else’s, and to be okay to say “no”.
The more comfortable she becomes with saying what’s really on her mind now, the more readily she’ll be able to as a teenager and a woman, later on. And that’s important.