Friday, August 24, 2007

How to help our children learn independence

Barbara Curtis, mom of 12 including three children with Down syndrome, blogger, and author of 6 books and over 700 articles, has some wisdom to share in a recent article she wrote for Crosswalk, an online magazine. She claims that toddler meltdowns are not necessary and may be a sign that we moms are missing chances to grant them learning opportunities and greater independence.

This made me examine my daily life with Christina. She is very independent and while there are plenty of times this must be curtailed, as in "NO, Christy, you may NOT go to the road and take the mail out of the mailbox by yourself". There are, however plenty of times when I limit her independence unnecessarily in the course of an average day for my own convenience. I don't want to wait for her to pull her pants up after potty time, or pick out a mismatched outfit to wear, or let her clear her own dish from the table when it's sure to lead to spills on the floor. I clean up her toys rather than asking for her help, and don't remember to let her help set the table for dinner. She's good at pulling laundry out of the dryer, whether she's asked or not, so why not ask her? In addition to setting up artificial settings for learning, perhaps I could slow down a bit and allow her some of the opportunities she's been throwing herself on the floor and crying for!

I think we special moms run the risk in this area particularly because our children may not be able to do what their typical peers can do, and we fall into the overbearing mom trap. I will always remember a story of a mom in my family whose son with Down syndrome was 50 years old before he put on his own hat. His mother, then deceased, had always done it for him. What pride Mickey in putting on his own hat! What a shame he missed 43 years of doing it!


grace said...

Sometimes not helping is actually helping. This was a good insight regarding independence.

BTW, I will include this post in next week's carnival of family life ( I am hosting).

Steve said...

I have been reading your blog for some time and my wife and I have started our own blog for our family and friends. We have three kids (one will be born on Thursday). Our oldest, Abbey, has down syndrome. She is 4 had a heart defect at birth and is hearing impired. She had a full heart repair 2 years ago and has no heart issues since then. Thanks for your thoughts and I enjoy reading your blog. I found your blog from reading your bio on a comment you made at Creatrive Minority Report.

jennifer in OR said...

Very sweet words, thank you, I learned from you today!