“The way kids learn to make decisions is by making decisions, not following directions.” (Alfie Kohn)
The other day my little girl asked if she could bake a cake. I said “Sure!” and began looking for an easy recipe for her to follow. I wanted to make sure she stuck to each ingredient and each measurement to make sure the results would be just right, or just like I expected it.
But that wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. She got all the ingredients out and began pouring and filling her bowl with anything she could find that she thought would be tasty in her cake. She didn’t measure anything, but just spooned in her flour, poured in the sugar, sprinkled the salt, etc.
The end result? It was great! It was tasty! It was to her liking and even to mine.
I realized that there was no need of me pushing my own plan or program on her when she can handle it herself. There are so many things throughout the day that I can let them take control over. And if something doesn’t turn out as they expect it to or goes wrong in some way, then they’ll figure that out too, without me being the one to nag it in.
I’m learning to find the balance between telling my kids what to do or letting them choose for themselves what they would like to do. I find myself so often, in some way, pushing something on them that is my personal preference, or maybe just because it’s the way I’ve been taught or the way I’m used to doing a certain thing, but not really because it’s the very best or necessary thing to do.
But why don’t I let them experience and choose for themselves in light of their own character and personality?
First I ask myself “Is it something that could be dangerous?” Or “Is there something morally wrong about it?” If not, I let them choose for themselves. I let them be without pushing my program on them.