Discover the Child

Discover the Child
"There is a tiny light in the unconscious of mankind which guides it toward better things." "We must follow the child, but we must follow the child as his leader." -Maria Montessori

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Supporting Sticktoitiveness

Do you remember watching your baby fall what seemed like thousands of times before he could learn to walk? We wanted to catch each fall, but we know it is that struggle that allows him to learn. That is true of every skill in life and it is important to examine our role as adults and how we encourage our children to struggle, because persevering through a difficult challenge is an important life skill in childhood and adulthood.

In fact, our children will fail if we don’t allow them to struggle.

1. Ponder our own feelings about watching our child struggle. Observe our own actions.
· Stop. Watch. Analyze – Don’t swoop in at the first sign of trouble. Watch your child working and analyze the situation. If you aren’t sure what to do, just watch. It’s only time to intervene if your child is ready to give up.
· Try to Relate- What helps you when you are struggling? It can feel enraging when someone says, “Oh, it’s easy, you can do it.” It feels a lot better to hear, “That is so tricky.”
2. Provide what your child needs to be successful.
· Tools- Does your child need a stool to reach or a smaller tool to do the job?
· Time- a child needs time to explore. If it takes 20 minutes for your child to put on his own shoes and coat before you go to the grocery, start getting ready 20 minutes ahead of time.
3. Support the Struggle
· Remember the goal is to help your child keep trying, not to help him get it right.
· Give Information- Make a suggestion just before you think your child is on the verge of quitting like saying, “What happens if you turn it this way?” or “Have you tried sitting on the stool to put on your shoes?”
· Take mental notes- Can you tell what is giving your child trouble? You can demonstrate that another time before your child attempts the task again. Don’t interrupt while your child is concentrating and don’t correct.
· Be anemotional anchor. You can say, “I’ll watch.” If your child is feeling upset, the goal is to help him help himself. You can say, “I can see you are so upset, tricky work can be really hard. Do you want to ask for help or would you like to take a deep breath before trying again.”
4. Emphasize Effort. Not Ability.
· Research shows- When we say, “You’re so smart,” children hear, “You can do it or you can’t. If you have to try it means you’re not smart.” If we must comment, try saying, “I see how hard you are working on that.”