‘Try, try, try to catch that fly!’ is Sadie’s mantra. We must give the message to our children that any skill is attainable to them if they have this attitude. When they find something difficult, show them that you believe they can do it if they keep trying – rather than doing it for them. This is difficult if you are in a rush and your child is, for example, struggling to get dressed but in every situation if you persevere in developing their independence, they will be so proud of themselves! They will be recognising they can work through hard things. They will want to ‘try, try, try’ on the next occasion.
However, like Sadie Spider’s mother in the story – you are there in the background – ready to step in and encourage, if needs be. Using phrases like, ‘Don’t worry, try again – I know you can do it,’ or ‘Why not try a different way?’ ‘What have you not thought of?’ ‘Do you need me to explain how to do it?’ ‘What did you try last time?’
What to Avoid
Sometimes, we show our frustration with our child when they can’t do something especially if we are in a rush. But our children pick up on this and feel deflated. This causes them to give up and lack belief that they are capable.
I am thinking of a situation where my five-year old was learning to do his seat belt. At first, he really struggled and wanted to be rescued by me. Part of me wanted to but – I had to give him time to try – I had to be patient. Once he knew I definitely was not going to do it for him, he kept trying. When he failed at first, I didn’t sigh or show frustration (even though I felt it because I needed to get to work!!) I asked him what else he could try. I asked his brother to explain how he does it. It took him a few times, but now I hear him figuring it out. He will say, “Maybe I need to move my car-seat over a little bit,” or “Last time I pulled it out really far,” and now he can do it. I tell him what a big boy he is now he can do his seat belt and I am proud he could try try try like Sadie Spider.
The same comes when hearing him read. I do not tell him what a word says if he is stuck (unless I know the word is definitely too difficult for his level) I am patient while he figures it out and if he gets it wrong, I ask him to try again, rather than tell him. Sometimes, he has to try more than 3 times. But he believes he can do it in the end so he will keep trying! You can see how this attitude will transfer to everything he does eventually. But it requires, patience, time and encouragement from us parents!
Challenge Your Child
Children need the opportunities to find things hard. I know as a teacher that children love it if they are succeeding at something you have told them is tricky! Give them things to do that require perseverance and take them out of their comfort zone (and away from their screens!)