Don’t Do It for Me!

do fo me

So powerful, yet so few educators and parents understand the need to let their students and children do for themselves, make mistakes and learn. We love to help, that’s why we got into the profession in the first place, but the first thing we should ask a child is is what did you try? Who did you ask? Show me what you can do. Where do you think it is? how should you begin?

Learning isn’t all about mastery and being perfect; learning is about feeling competent and worthwhile, feeling able to achieve and willing to try and fail. We make such a big deal about grades and achievement but how often do we celebrate attempts, new ways of thinking and trying.

There is a whole bunch of new research and information about “helicopter parents” and the damage they can cause in their child’s self-confidence. I would argue we need a whole new phrase to describe the level of intervention and worry parents are expressing about their children. Something like “Force field” parents who try to protect their children from any disappointment or failure in their lives. They aren’t just hovering, they’re shielding their children from life. I grew up in a household with 4 older brothers and one younger sister. My parents didn’t worry if I was perfect, they didn’t have time for that, they were too busy making sure we all had food to eat, clothes to wear and weren’t making any trips to the emergency room. Shielding all of us from disappointment was impossible so they didn’t even try, in fact they knew it was a disservice to let their children believe the world was all about them. They taught us to share, live with disappointment, take turns and not steal another person’s thunder.

What can today’s parents and educators do with smaller families, busier schedules, and peer pressure to do too much for our children? Try to remember that you aren’t doing a child any good by doing it all for them. Ask the child what they can do for themselves and give them the wait time they need to think and learn!


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