I spoke to a parent recently and he was a bit worried that his 3-year-old might have a split personality. Wow! I did not see that coming, a 3 year old, well I continued to listen. He began to share his concerns. " At school he cleans up his toys, puts on his knapsack and is entirely self-sufficient at snack time.
At home, he whines whenever he is asked to pick up anything, insists that I am in the bathroom whenever he has to go, and lately has started demanding that I spoon-feed him dinner. Clearly, you all at school know something I don't.” I chuckled inside very thankful that this was all he meant by split personality! Let us be honest what parent hasn’t wondered: Why is my child better at school than for me at home? The simple answer: Your child tests his limits with you because he trusts you will love him no matter what. But that doesn't mean you can't borrow a few strategies from us at Tinkergarden to get the best from your child.
Please Promote Independence!
While we know that your 3- and 4-year-old still need plenty of parental help, here at Tinkergarden we have seen that kids are typically able to do more than many of us think. Here's how you can encourage them:
1. You can expect more. At school we expect our kids to put their own water bottle in the storage trays get their own snack, to throw away their wrappers, even hang up their bags and they do. But then they'll walk out of the classroom and the thumb goes in the mouth and they climb your arms. Perhaps if you try raising the bar your child will probably stretch to meet it.
2. Resist doing for him what he can do himself. While it may be quicker and easier to do it yourself, it won't help to make your child more self-sufficient. Quick hint: Appeal to his sense of pride, whenever we are trying to get kids to get their snack, sit on chairs during meals and so on, the aunties ask them: 'Do you want me to help you or can you do it yourself?' Those words are like magic, they always want to do it for themselves.
3. It is fine to let them solve simple problems. If you see your child trying to build a ramp for the train set or get a book from a shelf that he can reach if he stands on his stool pause a moment before racing over to help. Aunty Julie has expressed to me on several occasions as we watch her own son explore, provided that they are safe, those moments when we don't rush in, when we give children a moment to solve things for themselves, those are the character-building moments. I know that it’s natural to want to make everything perfect, but if we do, we cheat kids of the chance to experience success.
Dad and I laughed a bit before he left; I think that he learnt a thing or two as well that day about his son.