Monday, September 14, 2009


Observe your child and expect he/she will do the "right" thing or learn from their mistakes.
I use to have confidence in my son. By the time he was 7 (he's now 10) I knew I had taught him enough to make a good choice or if he didn't I could tell him about it and he would learn from his mistake.
As a parent it's easy to want to control or "over parent" your child. These days I find myself feeling like I want to tell my son what to do or how to do something before he even tries it. Somehow, in the last couple of years, I find myself leaning towards "over parenting". I'll correct my son if he makes a mistake before I give him the chance to correct himself. This may be due to the fact that as he gets older I want to make double sure he's going to do the "right" thing. I'm now realizing that if I trust him and trust he'll make a good choice then most of the time he will. If I don't give him a chance before I jump in and correct him then he never gets the chance to make a good choice and he'll never feel he can.
A good example:
I was walking along a trail with my son and my friend. I know my son is respectful of people and animals and is generally observant. My son was walking a ways ahead of my friend and I and coming up from the other direction was a horse (and person riding the horse of course). The trail is fairly skinny and when walking I always step aside and stand still to make sure and not spook the horse and let rider and horse pass.
My son, who is ahead and much closer to the horse, is walking right in the middle of the trail. I immediately have the inclination to holler out to my son in a parental tone, "remember to move over and let the horse pass, don't spook it, give them plenty of room". My friend also says, "you better tell your son to move over."
I almost say it but then something kicks in and I say to my friend, "just watch, he knows what to do." My son keeps walking right in the middle of the trail and I'm ready to yell out to him, "move over", but I squelch it. We've encountered horses on the trail before and I've already taught him what to do. No matter how out of my comfort zone it may be, I'm going to wait.
Well, at the last moment, but still with in plenty of time, he very politely and gently moves over and stands still until the horse passes. The woman rider thanks him and we move on. His time frame in making the right choice was out of my comfort zone but he made a good choice. I held my tongue and trusted him. But I had to make an effort to trust. Even if he wouldn't have made the right choice it wouldn't have been so bad. I could tell him what to do and trust next time he'd do it. At least I would have given him the chance!
Like I said, lately I find myself having a hard time with just sitting back and observing. I am going to try to get back to letting my child make the choice even if it's a little later then I'd like. In that way my child will gain the confidence necessary to make the good choices and learn from his mistakes.
If your child knows you trust him/her then they will trust themselves. If you don't trust them then they will most certainly not be able to trust their own choices.
Sit back, let yourself feel uncomfortable and observe. It gets easier over time.