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Friday, October 21, 2016

Struggle—Baby Chicks & Butterflies by Trisha Roberts

Butterfly Emerging

As parents, we want our children to succeed.  We hate to see them struggle. But struggle is a strategy for learning.  As children grapple and wrestle to learn a new task, they develop excellent skills and tools for the future. They learn by trial and error. They learn consequences. They learn to experiment. They learn to persevere.  If we step in to help our kids every time they struggle to perform a task, we are actually hindering their growth.  They learn that by complaining, crying, and fussing when they encounter a difficult task they can get someone to do the work for them!  How well will that strategy work at their first job? Sometimes we need to wait patiently and let the process unfold.

Think about it.  We learn and grow when we are challenged with a new job or assignment. As we put forth effort to figure out a new skill, we cultivate a sense of pride and accomplishment with a task completed. Our brains are stretched to find new solutions. We develop new strategies, tactics, techniques, and approaches that will assist us in future endeavors.

If you have ever watched a baby chick emerging from its shell, you have seen the exhausting struggle that occurs. Yet biologists tell us that the battle and exertion is necessary for the young chick to develop; it is not unusual to take 24 hours for the hatching to emerge from the egg!  In fact, if the chick is helped out of the egg, it does not grow strong.  It often sickens and dies.  The process and effort of hatching actually increases blood flow and develops lung capacity in the fledgling. 

Hatching Chick

Baby chick hatching
Baby chicken emerged from shell

Monarch HatchingButterfly hatching from ChrysalisLooking again to nature, we see the same struggle occurring with butterflies emerging from their chrysalis.  The effort of a butterfly attempting to leave its cocoon produces stronger wings. If this process does not occur, the butterfly’s wings don’t develop and they will be crippled or die.

Letting your children struggle to learn a task is a beneficial thing.  We are actually strengthened by the obstacles we face. Of course, there is a balance between struggling to the point of utter frustration and allowing children to try to accomplish a task on their own.  You, as a parent, need to encourage your child to attempt and persevere in learning new, challenging undertakings. We want our children to be independent—to think, to do, to be.  If we never allow them to encounter difficulties, they will never acquire the skills needed to overcome problems and obstacles.  Don’t do everything for your child.  Let them attempt things on their own.  Don’t expect perfection, but encourage them to do their best.
 “Handing a child the toy he wants instead of letting him crawl across the room for it or try his best to crawl for it; fulfilling his every whim; loading him down with toys and other shiny beautiful things before he really needs or desires them; emphasizing the importance of grades in school instead of the importance of education. . . all of these things tend to weaken the muscles a child should be developing on his own so that when the time comes to function independently, he will have the strength he needs.”   Julie Loe, B.S., PTA

     Find Ways to Make the Task More Fun!

Dressing skills are one of the first ways children start to show independence and are frequently a source of frustration for both kids and parents.  Putting on shoes and socks, learning to button a shirt, fastening a jacket and tying shoes are all skills that take multiple times to learn.  Getting a DressingDoll or Lace-Up Shoe allows kids to practice in a low-stress environment.

When you are irritated, exasperated and discouraged and your child is upset and distraught, remember the metamorphosis of the butterfly and the hatching chick. Take a break from the situation, try to breakdown the task into smaller components, find ways to make the task more fun, and praise your child for any and every accomplishment, however small.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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1 comment:

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