Growing Independence

IMG_9888There is something so endearing about watching children see a classmate in need and take the initiative to help.

I began to wonder:

How did they become so helpful?

Did someone tell them to do that?

Did they do it naturally?

Do they see their family helping each other at home?

Over a few weeks I began to take photos and watch how the process has come to be.

The track out back offers a multitude of opportunities for the children to observe each other struggling to get up the hill. They know that it is a challenge to get the larger and heavier bikes up the hill. But it seems that they purposely choose the bigger bike that will require the help of someone else.

At the beginning of the year the children would call for an adult to push them up the hill. It was nice to see them ask for help and get some assistance. But soon it became a full time position for our parents.

I wanted to see the  children gain more independence and work together with their peers to overcome the hill. I suggested that they ask a friend for help. I suggested that they get off their bike and push it themselves. I suggested to others not riding a bike that they might look for those that need some help.

My suggestions were not popular at first. It was easier for the adults to do it. It was laborious to get off and push it themselves. It took effort to convince a friend to help them.

But after a few weeks of practice, I began to see it working. They asked their friends to help. They got off and pushed it themselves. There were others standing by waiting to help those who needed it. IMG_9887

I could see how both those who asked for help and those who helped a fellow classmate had their confidence and self-esteem grow. They began to work together with their peers and friendships were starting to form.

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They enjoy the independence. It empowers them to know that they are capable of solving problems.

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Jim Taylor, Ph.D. who specializes in the psychology of parenting suggests that, “Independence is not something that your children can gain on their own. They have neither the perspective, experience, nor skills to develop independence separately from you. Rather, it is a gift you give your children that they will cherish and benefit from their entire lives. You can provide your child with several essential ingredients for gaining independence:

  • Give your children love and respect.
  • Show confidence in your children’s capabilities.
  • Teach them that they have control over their lives.
  • Provide guidance and then give them the freedom to make their own decisions.”

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It takes special effort on everyone’s part to cultivate this sense of independence in our children. The results will be rewarding as we help build their confidence one push up the hill at a time.

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