Am I helping or handicapping?

11 May 2012 by admin, No Comments »

It is always a joy playing with my children. (It reminds me of how old I am but that’s another story altogether…)

When they were younger, their play was simple yet still lots of fun. As they grow up, what they play with gets more complex and involves more imagination and the weaving in of stories.

Sometimes when I watch my four year-old trying to figure out a puzzle or a Lego piece (and sometimes, homework), I get very tempted to step in and “solve the problem” for him.

And the temptation is very really.

I mean I justify to myself that at the end of the day, what he wants is to enjoy the completed toy or finish the work. So, why shouldn’t I help him get there faster?

Here’s the problem.

After several of my helping, my son simply came to me the next time, handed me the toy and said, “Papa, can you help me fix this up, please?”

It can be a very simple task which he can complete easily on his own but he will still ask for help. And expects to get it.

That kinda stopped me in my tracks. And got me thinking.

What I realized was that children are such learning experts. (I wonder when and how many of us actually decided to stop learning…) We don’t have to teach them how to learn. They simply do and do so quickly and superbly.

And a large part of learning is seeing patterns.

What my son has learned in this case is that he can get to his objective quickly and “painlessly” by having me do the work.

Nothing wrong with this.

But this ends-mindedness has deprived him of the process through which he will gain so much more.

I mean, I am not going to be around to help him all the time, all his life. Nobody will be.

He must learn to make right decisions on his own. He must choose his own path, learn to be independent, to stand alone, and to deal with setbacks.

And he can only master these essential life skills by going through the process and not taking shortcuts.

The lesson for me, of course, is that I should never provide shortcuts that will handicap my children’s learning!

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