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Are You Teaching Your Kids to Trust Themselves?

Do you have one thing, one event, one person that you know has changed the course of your life? I’m sure some of us have more than one. I want to tell you about my second grade teacher. Her name was Mrs. Smith.

Mrs. Smith made me feel uncomfortable. She was direct, didn’t have a lot of tolerance for whining, and made me do everything on my own. ( GASP!!!) At the early age of 8, I hated going to school because I felt nervous around her. I cried EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. I thought it was because of her. . .

One day, Mrs.Smith mentioned to my mom that I might need to try something on my own—like dance class. I had always had my sister or my mom with me at all times. As the baby, I didnt have to worry about doing much for myself. So my mom did just as she was advised; she enrolled me a dance class—by myself—and the rest was history. I gained confidence. I began seeing that I loved to dance. I was good at it. I took dance classes and performed until I was in college. Mrs. Smith helped me become who I am today. I will forever be grateful to her. WHY? Because she taught me how to trust myself.

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I realized the other day, as my almost-seven-year-old called me out once again for “babying” him, that I am not allowing him to learn how to trust himself. I get in there fast—before he can possibly struggle for one moment. I lend my help every chance I get. I realize that this is really for me—not him. I am not allowing him to have a trusting relationship with himself.
I dont want to see him struggle. I dont want things to feel hard for him. Can you relate? Somewhere along the way, he started to grow up, and I haven’t. Until recently, I think I  have been stuck at about a “mom of a four year old” level. For those of you feeling a little uncomfortable because you have been here too, welcome to the club.
Its OK though, y’all! We can get through this together. We know from the bottom of our hearts, that we pray for our babies to grow and to become independent. We wouldn’t really want them to always need us for every little thing. In fact, now that I have become aware, and we have began making some changes, I realize just how much I was doing for him. I was doing all kinds of things that he can totally do on his own!
Today I’m sharing a few things with you that I’d encourage you to allow our preschool-age children to try on their own:

Wipe Their Own Bottom

I know, I know. I know you’re thinking about the mess that will happen if you aren’t the one doing that wiping. I hear you, but we MUST set bottom-wiping boundaries. Let’s tap into our well of patience and fight the urge to just get it done more quickly—for the love of toilet paper! Here is how we handle it now at our house. He wipes as much as he can, we do a quick check, and we tell him if he needs to do a little more. It’s not pretty or fun (or fast), but he is getting better and better!

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Get Their Own Snack

Set up a snack basket in your fridge or pantry with healthy snacks that your child can reach. When he or she asks for a snack, let them know they can grab something from the basket. I couldn’t believe how often I was going back and forth to the kitchen for snacks and drinks before I realized he could do this himself!

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Reach Things Above Their Head

Allow them to get a chair and reach it. The other week, our son asked if he could get a towel out of the top of our linen closet. I told to wait a minute so I could grab it for him. He answered, “Mom, I can just pull a chair over and get it.” Ever since that instance, when he says something is too high, I ask him if he could reach it if he stood on a chair. More times than not, the answer is yes.

Prepare Their Own Food

Pour milk on cereal, get their own glass of water, spread their own peanut butter—in general, food related stuff that we, as parents, are SO used to doing for them that it doesn’t even cross our minds that: a) They would want to do it themselves or b) That they are capable. *note: be ready for meal time to be a little more messy, but guess what?! Your kiddos can help clean up!

Ask for Help

You know what I mean right? We jump in and say, “Do you need help?” before letting them ask for help—or try it on their own. They know when to ask for help, and when to do it on their own, but if we keep jumping in and “saving” them when they don’t actually need it, we aren’t allowing them to trust themselves.
Please know that this is just an “in general” list. All kids develop differently and have different needs. All parents develop differently and have different needs. Do what works for you. Your child may be a champion bottom wiper. If so, that’s amazing, but we want to hear from you! What are somethings you loosened the reigns on so that your  age child could begin trusting themselves?

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