Featured Picture Book
THE THINGS I CAN DO by Jeff Mack
(Available at your local public library or bookstores, including online stores.)
THE THINGS I CAN DO is told from a child’s point of view and is illustrated in the style of a child’s drawings – which makes it especially interesting to young children. They can tell right away that it is a book about them. THE THINGS I CAN DO reminds us how important it is for children to learn to do things – to develop the skills that help them become independent. The pictures tell the story as much as do the words. We see the little boy’s drawings of himself doing, doing, doing – from making lunch to combing his hair to tying his shoes. Although most things he draws are real, a few are more like what he “wishes” he could do – like flying. In all cases, the little boy is telling us, “I can do it myself.” What an important goal!
Four Good Reasons Why Kids Need to DO Things
1. Love is made up of two parts. It is not just warm and fuzzy. Love is also sturdy. It teaches and expects things – skills and good behavior. It is best if your child receives both of these two parts of love in equal amounts.
Your child needs to know he is loved, regardless of what he can do or not do and regardless of how well he can do things. This is unconditional love – part #1. But, this part of love is not enough to help your child grow into a healthy adult.
Your child also must know that he is capable of doing the things necessary to get along in the world. This is also part of being loved – part #2. Being able to DO things is an important part of love at its best.
2. When children know how to do many things well – all by themselves – they have a way to feel they are becoming independent and that they are good thinkers.
This can be particularly important from about 18-months-old to 3-years-old. This is when children begin to have their own thoughts, wants, and desires. This is when they first become little “thinkers.” I didn’t say “stinkers,” but I’m sure that thought crossed a lot of readers’ minds, if they have ever been around a two-year-old.
This age is best known for the no-saying that goes along with children wanting to do things their way. The best way for them to feel OK about thinking for themselves and doing things their way is to begin to learn skills.
3. Once children know how to do things, they can have chores assigned to them. Chores help children know what they are good at. Chores teach responsibility.
Darling Daughter: There are lots of great ideas for chore charts on Pinterest.com as well as some good lists of what kinds of chores to consider for the age of your child. But, as always, use the lists as inspiration and be sure to decide what is right for your family and your children. Some of the lists have some tasks listed for each age that may not fit your child’s ability.
Chores are a way to help avoid overindulgence with your child. Doing for children what they can do for themselves or not teaching children what they need to know how to do for themselves are both forms of overindulgence.
Overindulgence can feel good to a child. (He is being taken care of. Who doesn’t like that?) It can also feel good to a parent. (You are loving and caring for your child. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do?) But, too much taking care of keeps the child from becoming capable of taking care of himself – which is not good and leads to unhappiness the older a person becomes.
4. Once children begin doing things for themselves, they can learn from their mistakes. They can learn that it’s OK to do things as many times as they need to. We learn best from our mistakes. It is important to let your child experience the frustration of mistakes.
- If food spills, be sure he knows how to clean it up. Help him as needed.
- If something doesn’t work right, give her a chance to try again – and again and again, if need be.
- If he can’t figure something out, don’t jump in with the answer. Let him struggle – that’s how he will learn things.
I usually have to give Ezzy a “push” she’ll fuse or flop around and say something is not working or she can’t do it – looking at me to come to her rescue and save her from the hard task. I try to remind myself to stay detatched and instead of doing for her giving her some moral support to keep trying, try something different, or some other “push” to keep at it (whatever “it” is). I have to admit it is really hard sometimes to stay out of “it.” But, good news for all of you who want to get better at this, most times E will try again and get it on that first “second” try. So, hang in there!
Our February 1 post will continue this topic and talk about ways to encourage your child to DO things, how to teach your child skills, and some fun activities with children that all about “doing” things. Don’t miss it!
Also, be sure to check in daily for our parenting tip that can help you work on the things we have talked about in this parenting conversation (Daily Parenting Tips).
Read All About It
GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson, and David Bredehoft
SELF ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke
PICK UP YOUR SOCKS, Elizabeth Crary
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