Have you ever noticed once a young child can walk he picks up the largest and heaviest things he can and tries to carry them across the room? And we, as the adults in his life, wanting to keep him safe, interrupt and say, “Let me help you with that!” Why is that? For the child we it call Maximum Effort. This is the fascinating phase that children go through to challenge themselves around a specific emerging skill. This phase lasts throughout childhood and presents differently as children grow. For the parent, well, we call this modern parenting. It takes a lot to step back an observe rather than jump in and “save” our children from hard work. We are all working on it, and unfortunately working against our current culture. I’ll write more about this in a future post…but for now, let’s get back to your child’s efforts.
It is important to recognize these efforts in your child and allow him to explore his own capabilities. There will be moments of success. There will be moments of failure. And there will be moments when he will challenge himself to try again. Making mistakes is an important way to accelerate learning. Research shows self-control and perseverance are predictors of success later in life.
If we as parents can foster these moments, while giving clear guidelines, we support our children’s natural curiosity. “Yes, you may jump outside” (not on the furniture;-) ); “yes, you may practice balancing the beanbag (not that antique vase); “I hear what you are saying and I have a different perspective on this.” Encouraging our children in this way Helps them keep lit a passion to explore the world. This is what leads to true education.
What moments of maximum effort have you seen in your own children?