EARLY CHILDHOOD — Creating Capable Children

(Photo by Katie Krause, Nebraska Extension in Douglas–Sarpy Counties)
(Photo by Katie Krause, Nebraska Extension in Douglas–Sarpy Counties)

By LaDonna Werth, Extension Educator, Holt–Boyd Counties

We all know children tend to take a little (or sometimes a lot) longer when completing simple tasks such as zipping up their coat, opening a jar, or sweeping the floor. We also know it would be a lot faster to just do it for them rather than having to sit and wait until they get it done. However, that method does not develop self-sufficiency in your child. So, what approach does then?

When your child is trying to zip up their coat, do you wait a couple seconds and then do it for them? Or do you wait until they figure it out or actually need your help? Instead of jumping in right away, try using encouraging words like “Almost!” or “So close!” You will be able to tell when they are ready to give up. If they reach that point, try asking if they would like your help, and if so, you could put your fingers over theirs and zip it up together.

When your child is sweeping the floor, but doing more harm than good, simply take the broom for a moment, show them how, and say, “Here, if you do it this way, you’ll get the floor a lot cleaner.”

There are many benefits that come from boredom. When you plan activity after activity for your child, or give them access to a phone or similar device, they do not ever have a chance to get bored. If they do experience boredom, they will learn to fill the time up with something by themselves. Boredom is a restless state and the brain, with practice, will find things to do to get out of it, such as daydreaming, imagining and problem solving. If your child is used to being occupied, they will grow agitated when they are not doing something and will look to you to fill their time. So make it easier on yourself and let your child be bored every once in a while.

Source: “Zero to Five” by Tracy Cutchlow