Children are born naturally desiring to have all their needs met, all the time. When a child cries we ask, ‘What do you want?” and they are always so glad to tell us to go get the moon, and minutes later they have had enough of it and want something else. Kelly Nault is one of the mums who have inspired me with her ideas on good parenting. She co-parented two blind brothers for seven years. When describing them she often stated that when they weren’t bouncing off the walls, they were literally pounding on them and no one would work with them.
They both had a deep sense of entitlement – a sense of “I am blind so therefore everyone should serve me” and many people would due to their physical disability. People felt sorry for them and would give them handouts for no reason other than their blindness.
The owner of a corner store in the neighbourhood, for example, would refuse to take the boys’ money and instead gave them their candy for free! This entitlement mentality ran deep in both of them (as it does in many children today) and affected everything and everyone around them.
I will share the rest of the story in Kelly’s own words: ‘While at the skating rink one day, Grant (the youngest) refused to take his skates off by himself. He cried that he just couldn’t do it (even though I had seen him do it before). Frustrated, I encouraged him as best I could, and then left him alone to sulk as I went to take off my own skates. No sooner had I turned my back than the rink manager appeared and started to take Grant’s skates off for him. I could tell by the smirk on Grant’s face that he was pleased with this arrangement.
Quickly, I walked up to the rink manager and said, “I know you want to help Grant and I am sure he appreciates it. But the best way you can help him is to help him help HIMSELF so he can learn how to take his skates off. There might not always be someone around to help and, therefore, it is important for him to learn how to do it on his own.”
The rink manager shrugged, gave up and walked away. Grant finally did take his skates off…after a painful 35 minutes! We left the rink that day and the memory of this frustrating event faded from mind. But unbeknownst to me, this memory stuck with Grant.
Over a year later Grant said to me, “Remember how that guy at the skating rink didn’t think I could take my skates off ?” I slowly remembered. He continued, “Well, a lot of people don’t think I can do very much on my own because I am blind.” To which I smiled and replied, “Yes, but we both know better don’t we? And I can’t think of anyone better than you to teach the people just how capable you truly are.”
You may find that it is just easier to do things for your family than to fight about it or to see that it just doesn’t get done. As moms, we are generally quicker, cleaner and don’t protest to doing those simple tasks! Yet, I have learned the hard way that the ONLY way to build ANY child’s self-esteem is to help them feel capable – to give them more responsibility. So they don’t end up always looking for what they can TAKE, rather than what they can GIVE.
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