I agree with this author about what is happening with trends in childcare these days. As a daycare provider, I have seen many children and families come and go and have observed children who are being stressed out by parent behavior and children who succeed because of parent behavior. Nobody has all the right answers, but there are some things that become clearer to me with each passing year, and with each new child and family that I meet. All of the parents mean well and try really hard to raise their children well, but despite their efforts, many parents don’t realize just how much some of their behaviors are negatively affecting their child.
If we want children to become independent, we have to give them opportunities to make choices and understand the consequences (good and bad) of those choices. If we want them to become problem solvers, they need to be given opportunities to solve their own problems. We need to give the child language and examples on how to solve problems, but we can’t step in all of the time to solve the problem for them.
If we want children to have a positive self esteem, we need to give opportunities for them to do everything possible by and for themselves, and offer only “necessary” help. Then, praise can be given for real accomplishments, and guidance given to learn ways to cope with failures. The most important is not to be afraid to say “no” when what a child wants is not what the child needs. When you know that saying” no” will result in a tantrum, it’s tempting to give in to the child because you don’t want to put up with the tantrums. But this is what the child needs – clear and consistent boundaries and limits. Children also need opportunities to learn patience, build will power, and to delay gratification. They aren’t naturally wired to do this before the age of 3, but can learn it if given the opportunity. Oppositely, they will learn to develop a sense of entitlement if clear and consistent boundaries are not set.
Many parents don’t like to hear this from me, just as the author states about her experiences at the beginning of the article. I’m sure it sounds like I am being uncaring and mean to the child, but this is what the child needs; a parent and a guide, not a friend. Nobody wants to hear a child screaming and crying, of course. We automatically think surely this means that the child is stressed and hurt and we have to step in and help, and do something to get the crying to stop. But a crying child does not always need to be picked up or have all of his problems solved by an adult so that the crying stops. A crying child needs “necessary” help and a lot of guidance, and the opportunity to solve a problem, in order to resolve the crying, by himself. Sometimes this is just being given the opportunity to learn how to calm himself down in order to begin to talk about how to solve a problem together. I’m not saying a crying child should be ignored, and of course sometimes what the child needs is hugs and to be comforted physically. However, if we always step in, the child will always rely on an adult to solve his problems, and will never learn to do this for himself, which ultimately leads to insecurity, anxiety, lack of independence, and lack of self-esteem.
When a child is given what he needs he develops self control, self-esteem, independence, and a real sense of security so that he can go forward and explore the world without fear or anxiety. And then it is truly a joy to be a guide in their growth and development.