This only led to his getting more revved-up and responding: “No, no, no–don’t tell me that!” I pivoted and tried: “I have some ideas about how you might solve this problem. Do you want to hear them?” He quickly calmed down and was all ears. This seemingly minor nuance can make a big difference.
Offering unsolicited guidance, especially when a child is in a stressed state, can feel intrusive and intensify your child’s distress. Asking for permission to provide input shows respect for your child’s boundaries and makes it more likely that he will actually absorb the ideas you are sharing.
4. Provide The Support Your Child Needs To Master The Challenge. Don’t Do Something For Her That She Is Able To Do On Her Own.
When Lucas says he is ready to try the scooter again, his dad, Russell asks him what kind of help he’d like. Lucas says he wants Russell to hold onto the handlebars while he just stands on the scooter without it moving. Once Lucas feels comfortable with the scooter stationary, they agree that the next step should be Russell pulling Lucas on the scooter along the driveway, as Russell continues to hold the handlebars.
Then Lucas says he wants to push on his own while dad is still holding on. Taking this incremental approach, with Russell slowly pulling back on his support, Lucas is scootering on his own masterfully by the end of the day.
Another recent example: three-year-old Malcolm is dead set on pouring his own milk, but it keeps spilling and Malcolm is getting frustrated. His dad, Roger, knows Malcolm is able and ready to master pouring, but not from a large, bulky milk carton.
So instead of just taking over and pouring the milk himself, Roger acknowledges Malcolm’s frustration and cheerily announces, “We can solve that problem!” Roger gets out a sports bottle, fills it with milk, and hands it to Malcolm who happily fills his own cup.
Written by: Claire Lerner
Originally appeared on: Lerner Child Development
Republished with permission