Life Lessons on the Bumper Cars

J stood in line along with the other children for the kiddie bumper cars while I chatted it up with some other moms.  Our little group of children were repeatedly skipped because they just weren’t paying attention and others took advantage of that.  We eventually caught on and secured our children’s rightful spot at the front of the line.  I was really excited for Jenin because she loves driving.  No, not in a Brittney-repeat-sit-in-my-lap-down-the-freeway kind of driving, but behind the wheel at theme park rides.  This would be her first time driving alone and steering so I was eager to see her go.

(Taken with my cell phone)

Of course everything started out fine and dandy while she was in the middle, but she ended up working her way into the wall very close to the corner.  I kept trying to give her directions on how to manuever out.  “Turn the wheel! Turn more! More!! Take your foot off of the pedal and turn! Try again!”  She was getting incredibly frustrated because she wanted to be bumping cars with the rest of the kids instead of stuck in the corner.  I was also getting anxious because I knew her time would end soon.  So I tried leaning over the short wall to try to turn the wheel myself.  My “Go-Go-Gadget Arms” were just not long enough and even I became frustrated.  That’s when a father standing in line witnessing the whole ordeal very casually told me, “let her get bored and she’ll figure it out.”

And just like that, I felt like I had failed my daughter.  Not because I couldn’t get her out of the corner, but because I’ve always rescued her from failure.  I’ve never given her a chance to learn from her mistakes. I just quickly fix the situation and send her on her way. Like any mother, I just want her to be happy and successful.  But have I done too much for her that now it has backfired in my face?

Lately I’ve noticed that she becomes so frustrated when she cannot complete a task that she just gives up completely.  Is this what I’ve led my daughter to become?  I always thought that I was more laid back and was encouraging her to become an independent child. I wouldn’t jump every time she fell because 99% of the time she was fine.  I allowed her to explore things safely and introduced new tastes.

Is it possible that I am doing too much for her? She’s only three, is it even possible to even think that I’m doing too much for my little girl? Jenin is certainly Miss Independent but maybe not where it counts.  She’ll wander away from me in a store without hesitation, but when it comes to mastering a new skill, she wants me to take over for her until the hard part is done.

Mothers, how do you encourage your children to keep trying at something that is difficult for them?  I certainly guide her through the first few times, but how do I get her to want to take over and try for herself? I’ve only been at this for about four years.  I can certainly use some advice from the more seasoned mothers (and grandmothers and aunts!) out there.


  • MoOn says:

    I am just like you, I want to make sure that my kids are safe and happy all time,although I do try my best to give my boy (4 yrs) some space, when he does something new, he'll attempt it a couple of times and then asks for my help in frustration, I keep telling him that he can do it and I give him little guidance, so when he achieves whatever tasks he's doing, he laughs and tells me "I am a hero I did it all by myself"..Lol..
    Don't worry, You'll learn to withdraw and give your child more independence..

  • flowergarden129 says:

    When my kids were little, I focused on congratulating them for working hard at something, not for the outcome or product. If they were trying hard, they got praise. I would say things like "Wow, you're really working hard on that drawing!" or "Good work. That middle part was really tricky and you stuck with it!" I found that if I made those kind of comments about things that were hard (but not overwhelming) to them they would want to try hard on things that had formerly been overwhelming to them. Of course, there are also things that are just beyond a small child's capacities, but I would always encourage them to try first, or to talk with me about how they thought a problem could be solved, even if they didn't have the physical prowess to solve it yet.

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