When faced with hardships, competence is the characteristic that’ll help your child get up, brush off the dust, and declare ‘Yes, I can!’ But, this strong sense of belief in one’s ability to do anything doesn’t come overnight – it has to be nurtured and instilled during the child’s foundation years.
While kids love contributing and doing things on their own, adults tend to go out of their way to help them out. This need to help can stem from various factors. It may be because you see your child making a mess or taking more time than necessary to complete a task, or you’re afraid they may hurt themselves.
When you stand ready to swoop in at the first potential risk, you send out a message to your child. It reads – ‘You’re not ready’, ‘The world is dangerous’, ‘You’re not yet competent’. Gradually, these messages sink into your child’s fundamental beliefs, and the can-do spirit slowly dissipates.
However, there is a way you can stop that from happening. We believe that when kids have the freedom to choose, they start believing in themselves. The autonomy that comes with making decisions instils in them the confidence needed to survive in this increasingly complex society.
So, here are some decisions that you should let your children make for themselves.
Whether your child is studying at a pre-school or heading off to university, he or she should have a say in what they wear. After all, clothes are an expression of personality! They help kids answer the most incessant question ‘who am I’, and they help build self-worth and confidence – both of which are fine ingredients in creating competent kids.
We often notice parents trying hard to help their kids make friends. While the thought is noble, it isn’t practical. Just as adults have the freedom to decide whom they spend their time with, so should kids. Tearing kids apart or insisting they spend time together, can be counter-productive. However, trusting your kid to make the right choice works.
Kids grow up to be competent adults when they nurture a hobby they love. While it’s always great to encourage your child to try out new activities, asking them to stick with one that they aren’t interested in, won’t do anyone any good. That is because, when kids find an activity they love and are naturally good at, it builds their sense of self-worth. When forced to do otherwise, the effect tends to be the opposite.
Though parent supervision is essential, the final say in what to watch, play, listen to or read, should rest with the kid. When you let your child pick entertainment or reading options, you allow them to discover their interests. These are the decisions that’ll help in building your child’s personality and in defining how your kid survives outside of the four walls of any pre-school.
At our kindergarten, we like to ask kids what they would like to eat. Doing this not only helps them learn how to order at restaurants but also helps them become decisive. When you let your kids choose food off a menu and place an order, you openly show the trust you have in their decision-making abilities. While a food order you don’t like will only last a meal, the skill will last a lifetime.
Someone once said that it isn’t failure that defines us, but our response to it that does. When nurturing children, our first instinct is to keep them safe. But the world is big and complex, and you can’t always be there to protect them. You have to let them take risks and make their own decisions.
Whether they win or fail, they will inevitably develop a strong sense of competence – a belief that they are enough, that no task is too big for them, no dream too far! The early and subtle messages you send out about your belief in your child’s competence will end up playing a vital role in its development.
One of the top 10 play schools in Gurgaon, Beansprouts strongly believes in helping children become more independent and competent. We aim to empower children to become leaders of their own learning by pursuing their interests, curiosity and their natural quest for knowledge – leading to inquiry, investigation, discovery and active, hands-on exploration.