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A Parent's Helping Hand

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pg” alt=”" width=”300″ height=”285″ />Imagine you are a budding marathon runner who is full of enthusiasm but has no experience in running at all. You hire a coach and on the very first day they tell you that you have to run 5 miles right away. They don’t offer any advice on how to build up your strength or pace yourself and they get mad when you flop miserably at your first mile. They shout at you and don’t shy from ridiculing you in front of all the people you care about. Would you feel this coach cares about you? Would you still be enthusiastic about running the marathon and would you feel it is something you can do? Or, would you feel discouraged and fearful of ever trying it again?

Some parents believe they need to be ‘tough’ with their child and that giving help nurtures weakness and prevents the child from becoming a strong and independent individual. They finish treating their child as the nasty coach in the paragraph above which not only makes the child feel unloved but also influences negatively the way they perceive challenges and trying new things. Unconsciously, instead of creating a strong individual with a daring spirit such parents may create a person who is timid and fearful of spreading their wings in life. Those negative childhood experiences have much stronger influence on us as adults than we are often aware of. If children are not helped when they need it or if we push them into doing things they are not yet ready for we give them too much taste of failure and helplessness. That is a very bitter taste the child will often try to avoid throughout their life by never attempting to stretch themselves beyond what they know is safe.

Other parents may mistake being a helpful parent to mean we always do things instead of the child when they are challenged by something. More often than not being helpful may mean helping the child manage the challenge by themselves by adding the extra piece of ability they don’t possess yet. If we always do things for our children because we can do better or faster or because we simply don’t like to see them struggle we take from them the opportunity to exercise their challenge solving muscles. If instead we allow them to tackle the challenge but let them know we are there, ready to step in if asked the effect of our help will be supportive to and nurturing the child’s daring spirit.

Children are naturally curious about their world and are quite willing to explore and constantly stretch their abilities. In my work with children I have seen kids go bravely into conquering a challenge that I thought was not yet up to their abilities. Like the little girl I spent time with a few days ago who wanted to climb on her parents’ bed that was almost as high as she was. I thought she would never be able to get on the bed but after trying and sliding back down many times she managed to climb up. She was so pleased with herself! For her that was a major conquest and I congratulated her for that. This ‘challenge tackle’ finished with the child winning but if I had seen her beginning to lose heart I would have asked her if she needed help. Instead of leaving her with the feeling of ‘difficult’ and defeat I would have offered the extra strength she still lacked so she could succeed. Or, there was this other little girl who wanted to walk on the rock bridge going across a small pond but was afraid she may fall. Sensing her insecurity I offered her my hand. She needed that twice to realize hopping from rock to rock was OK and fun! After that she was unstoppable. If I had not offered help she may have not even tried.

We have all had the experience where we have felt fearful when trying something new we didn’t have reference points for. Many people may need just one skydive jump with an instructor before they are emotionally ready to go solo because after the first jump they know what to expect and they know they can do it. Our children need our helping hand in much the same way. If our supportive presence is always there for them we give them the message they are not alone and that no challenge is too much or too difficult to overcome. We tell them they are supported and safe. We tell them they can try anything in this new world they are exploring. That exploration is fun and not just a painful way to learn their limitations. We teach them it is safe to be daring and it leads to many new wonderful experiences. Imagine how much an adult with a spirit nurtured in such a way can achieve! And imagine the fulfillment and joy we receive when nurturing that spirit ~

Makayla Sadamori combines many years of experience as a teacher and a childcare provider with her Maven Method coach training to follow her passion – helping parents bring love and joy into parenting and create a healthy, nurturing, and fulfilling relationship with their children.

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