As parents, we get used to being in charge all the time. We are usually the ones who set the rules, decide what time bedtime is and what goes into the lunchbox. We know best how to tie a shoelace and what Tommy next door would like for his next birthday. If we do our job too well, however, we run the risk of becoming too prescriptive.
So, next time you find yourself doing too much around the children - stop and think: is there any way I can empower my child to tackle this task?
Let’s say your child took a toy off their friend. Instead of telling them to apologise or sending them to time-out (or whatever it is you usually do), ask them the following questions:
“How do you think the other child felt?”
“What can we do to make them feel better?”
2. Problem solving:
Let’s say we only have 3 boxes of Smarties and there are 4 children. Ask your child: “What can we do about it?” If they respond: “One of the children can go without,” ask a leading question like: “Is there a way we can all share the Smarties in a fair way?”
Grandma is coming over for morning tea, and the sofa is full of toys. Ask the child where they think she will sit and what they can do to make sure she feels welcome in your home.
In particular, children who have a preference for non-conforming or for no external guidance (if you’re unsure, please check their Learning Style on www.creativelearningcentre.com), will welcome this empowering style of parenting.
In contrast, if your children look up to you to tell them exactly what to do, this is a good way to let them develop the skill of thinking for themselves. The idea is not to change their wonderful unique Learning Style: it is simply to teach them a life skill in a gentle non-threatening environment.