The Gifts of Seizing on Little Moments for Encouraging Our Kids’ Personal Growth

This week I’ve been rereading Jessica Lahey’s book The Gift of Failure, which is about learning to let go (and let our kids fail) so they can ultimately succeed. Jessica talks a lot about the need for our kids to do more for themselves, something I firmly believe in, even though I admit to sometimes swooping in and taking over because of time pressure or in-the-moment ease.

So I was especially excited when, last night while helping me clean up after dinner, Asher announced he’d like to start making healthier, yummy breakfasts for himself.

He had me at “I’d like to make…”

He does make his own breakfast some days—pouring a bowl of cereal or heating up some instant oatmeal—but more often than not, Derin or I find ourselves serving him up a bagel or, if I’m feeling really generous, the occasional french toast.

I know that many differently-wired kids need lots of support and scaffolding in gaining new skills, and that their timelines for doing things independently might be slower than that of their peers.

This morning, Asher and I brainstormed healthy breakfasts that he could learn to make and wrote out a shopping list. The first two meals he wants to make this week are scrambled eggs with a side of sausage and avocado and crepes with a side of bacon and fruit. And might I add that he is just so very excited about the whole thing.

While I absolutely love Jessica’s book and I subscribe wholeheartedly to the premise behind it, I also know that many differently-wired kids need lots of support and scaffolding in gaining new skills, and that their timelines for doing things independently—like making eggs and bacon—might be slower than that of their peers.

But the cool part is, and what I’ve witnessed time and time again, is that if we’re willing to continue to ask our kids for help (Asher is my sometimes sous chef while I’m cooking dinner), invite participation, give them lots of opportunities to try things in a pressure-free situation, and regularly and positively acknowledge their effort, they (usually) eventually get there on their own. And when they do, their motivation is real, their stick-to-it-ness solid, and they feel great about the outcome.

Of course, maybe in this case it was just a matter of letting him become unbearably bored with eating Special K, and him realizing that he had the capability to do something about it. Either way, I’ll take it.

So, what growth have you witnessed in your differently-wired child this week? Sometimes it can be hard to see, but if we look close enough, it’s almost always there…

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