Monday, April 30, 2012

Learning Through Frustration, by Amanda Quesnell, Caregiver

Every parent wants to be assured that their child is protected.  However, every parent knows that they cannot be there with their kids at all times.  They cannot constantly be watching over them.  When a parent isn’t with their child there is always a feeling of worry.  You wonder what s/he is doing, who they are with, and most importantly, whether or not they are safe.  It is no doubt that being a parent is stressful, terrifying, and even unbearable, to an extreme.  The degree of worry varies depending on each situation, but every parent worries about their child.  In order to ease parents’ worries, however, many parents make the mistake of over protecting.  They try to make everything as simple as possible for their kids because they don’t want them to struggle.  While it may seem that parents are being helpful, they are often harming the child’s development, and their ability to complete simple tasks.
My brother and his wife have two boys; Brady is four and Jack just recently turned two.  I spend a great deal of time with both of my nephews.  I see them every Wednesday for family dinner night and they spend the night almost every weekend.  It is amazing to see the difference in their actions when they are with others, versus when they are with their parents.  They are easily frustrated whenever their Mom and Dad are around.  If something isn’t going their way, they’ll throw a fit.  Just last weekend Brady tried setting up his car track, and when one piece wasn’t fitting correctly, he hit the entire thing and started whining.  Immediately, my brother ran over to help him with the track.  My initial reaction was to suggest Brady calm down, and ask for help.  My brother’s initial reaction was to run to his side and fix whatever it was that was making Brady upset.  Sometimes, we don’t want our kids to be frustrated, so we try to help them as much as possible.
When we started to get cold weather I noticed children getting a lot more frustrated with putting on their outside clothes.  They wanted me to put on their snow pants, coat, hat, gloves, scarfs, and boots.  Many of them wouldn’t even try to put it on by themselves; they would just wait for my help, and if I didn’t do it for them they would start to cry.  Although it would have been faster for me to put everything on for them there was no way I was going to do that for every child.  There were days when it took us forever to get outside because the children refused to try putting their winter clothing on.  It was hard at first for them to get all their winter gear on by themselves. Towards the end of winter they had no problem with this.  If I saw them struggling I would try to help and they would refuse because they wanted to do it all by themselves.
A child needs to get frustrated sometimes.  The frustration that children experience early in life helps the child to develop essential problem solving and communication skills.  We adults won’t always be around to help, so children need to learn to do things independently. 

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