Saturday, December 12, 2015
Building autonomy part 2
Every child struggles to build autonomy. One way a parent can recognize their children are struggling with the development of autonomy is to provide training, resources, modeling and supervision to children as they develop autonomy. The way children struggle to develop autonomy is different. Some children are very independent and don't want much help from their parents as they try to figure out how to do a task such as putting their shoes on. Other children will ask for the help that they need. A parent models developing autonomy by learning how to do new things themselves and has their children see the effort they put into learning something new. To acknowledge that a child wants to figure out a problem (such as how to put their shoes on) for themselves and allowing them to is a parent recognizing a child's struggle for autonomy. Where putting shoes on requires little supervision, a child wanting to learn how to make brownies does. This requires a parent's supervision as a child may not be old enough to use the oven themselves yet. A parent develops autonomy as a parent lets a child hit the button to warm the oven to the temperature the brownies need to be cooked at. They provide resources as they get the ingredients for the brownies and supervision to use the oven correctly.
A second way to recognize that children are struggling to develop autonomy is to learn best practices for supporting the development of autonomy in children. To learn best practices for supporting the development of autonomy in children is to allow children to do things for themselves. Children want to learn how to put the shapes in the shape sorter and how to build with Legos etc. Sure it will take them longer to do it, however, they're learning important skills that will help them later in life as they learn to do things for themselves and solve the problem of where each shape goes. When a parent allows a child to figure these things out for themselves the parent is teaching the child they can do anything and that they as the parent will teach them how to build a building with the Legos or how to do anything else the child needs or wants to learn how to do for themselves.
The last way a parent can recognize that their children are struggling to develop autonomy is to learn how to communicate with their children in order to support the development of autonomy. A parent does this by giving their children choices such as allowing the child to decide whether they do their homework before or after dinner. It also means helping children when the parent sees that they're frustrated. For example, a child may be getting frustrated because they can't get the shapes in the shape sorter. The parent helps a child develop autonomy through communicating with the child by telling the child which way to turn it and showing and explaining to them what they may be doing 'wrong' and how to fix it.
A parents major task in developing autonomy is to help children be safe and learn appropriate social and behavior skills. Parents should be encouraging a child's effort to try something, not shaming them. A parent should be developing autonomy by teaching children how to do things so that they can do the activity themselves next time, not destroying their autonomy by teaching them they are incapable.