June 01, 2010


I often struggle with Jacob and how much to help him.  He does not have an "I can do it myself" bone in his body (Mattie, on the other hand has an entire skeleton of them!), so I often wonder if he really needs help or if he doesn't want to try to do it himself.  Couple this with him being a perfectionist who seems to be afraid of failure, and I end up most often at the second conclusion: he doesn't want to try.  And that makes me expect too much of him, because I don't trust his requests.

I went to the CHAP conference recently and surprisingly, this was one of the topics that was addressed in an essay writing seminar (not even one I really needed to attend!). Well, not surprising that it was addressed with writing... surprising that how much to help was the main nugget I left with.  I was so thankful, as this was a question I'd been wondering about for some time!  Andrew Pudewa was the speaker, and his conclusion was that one cannot help a child too much.  He said that children will inevitably say so when he or she can do it by themselves.  A child will not want help when he feels confident.  (Not sure I agree with that if the child is just lazy, but in this context it made sense.)  He also made the point that insisting a child do something on his own will delay independence!

So how does this translate into our life - cleaning a room, using the dustpan after sweeping the kitchen, math, a comprehension question, folding a shirt, etc.  Those are the areas in which Jacob consistently asks for help.

So I came home and decided to test this theory of Mr. Pudewa's.  I sure wasn't convinced I was handling it the right way before, so I was open to something new!  It's been three weeks now, I think, and I've been consistently offering more help in these areas.  I didn't badger or abandon him before, but I would tend to help verbally or ask him more than once if he really needed help.  Now I'm just offering it.

Jacob seems to be much happier while doing these things.  He is complaining less about them, and actually said about himself the other day, "I can't believe how many I'm getting right!"  (As an aside, he's actually not getting a higher percentage right, he's just seeing it differently.)  He was playing with Legos the other day and was stumped as to what to build.  After offering 10 ideas and him still being negative, I went and sat next to him and offered to help.  He had a great penguin built in 5 minutes and didn't let me help him once.

As for now, this seems to be the right path.  I'm so thankful for the three or four minutes in the seminar.  This is one of those I want to be sure I don't forget. I know the Lord will always give me the help I need as well, and I think this is one of the ways I can share His grace with Jacob.


Jeni said...

oh.my. Boy do I need that reminder right now! I'm finally sitting next to Nate as he is doing, or rather not doing, his math. Since I've sat next to him he's cruising! Not sure if it's right or wrong, but I may do a little theory-testing of my own...

Leslie said...

What a neat answer to prayer - and in an unexpected place too! I loved reading what you wrote and may have to try some of that with one of mine too. I think you are a wonderful mommy!