Friday, July 29, 2016

I Will Not Help

We all want our kids to succeed. We want them to be happy and fulfilled. And we often think we know the shortcut to that happiness. Help. We want to help them because we love them. My oldest and my youngest naturally tell me when to stop helping. "Don't worry, Mommy. I got it," my two year old will say as she struggles to carry something heavy or put her straw in her juice box. But my middle child continues to accept and expect help for everything. I have begun to see that I can help him more by saying no.

"Mommy!! I need help!" 
I heard my four year old screaming and ran to the garage to find him with tears in his eyes. "What happened, bud? You okay?"
"I can't do it!" He said, kicking his workbench. 
I relaxed knowing he wasn't hurt but then began to feel the familiar wave of frustration that fills both of us during these interactions. "Can't do what, love?"
"I can't build the skate park!"
"Skate park?"
"I'm building a skate park out of wood and it won't stay together!"
"Hmmm...What could you change to make it work better?" 
This kind of statement gets my oldest thinking but only serves to frustrate my middle further.
"I don't know! You need to fix it!"
Crossroads. To fix or not to fix? I took a deep breath and prepared for the tantrum. "You've got this, buddy. Maybe you could take a break then get back to it. Sometimes your brain solves problems while you are busy doing other things." My groundbreaking and insightful words were drowned out by his wailing. He was now on the garage floor sobbing.
"I can't do it! I don't know how!"
I bent to kiss his tear streaked cheek. "Yes you can and you will. I love you. I'll be right inside if you need a hug and some encouragement."

He followed me inside, clearly having given up. I sighed and said a quick prayer that he would try again. We all piled on the couch for our kids devotional and then some reading and a video about Thomas Edison. The movie showed Thomas Edison trying hundreds of different filaments for months at a time to try and get the light bulb to work. "Wow, Drew. Look how many times he failed before he got it right. Even the guy that invented the light bulb got frustrated. But can you imagine if he had quit?" I asked him.
We began to imagine life without light bulbs. "No closet light at night when we get scared!" "No headlights on cars!" "REALLY dark nights!"

An hour or so later, Drew emerged from the garage smiling. "Mommy! Mommy! I figured it out! I had an idea and I tried it and it worked! Come check it out!"

We all ran out to see his creation and it really was cool. His smile was brighter than I've ever seen. He was so proud of himself. "You didn't give up, bud, and it was worth the effort. You figured out how to make your own toy! I love it!" He hugged me hard and I said a quiet "thank you" for this little boy. 

I pray that saying no will give him the gift of perseverance and confidence. I pray that I can continue to say "no" so that he can see himself the way I see him: intelligent, capable, strong and creative. And Lord? Could we cut back on the tantrums? Thanks.

How could you help your children by helping less? What are they capable of doing with just a bit more practice?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...