“I Can Do It Myself!”
The willingness to try a new activity is a great strength that reflects confidence and independence. Exposure to new activities also gives your child a chance to adapt and use the appropriate skill and behavior required to complete the new task.
- Offer a new activity and ask your child to sit down and complete the task. Stay close by but do not offer help immediately. It borders on ridiculous when a child comes home from preschool with a brilliant craft that was obviously competed by the classroom teacher, who also has a Ph.D. in Art. It may be expedient for you to “take over” and complete the task, but resist that urge. Instead, be patient and provide encouragement while you let your child try to “figure it out” on his own.
- When your child becomes frustrated, don’t join in the frustration. Rather, demonstrate and encourage use of age-appropriate “problem solving” skills. Talk your child through using “trial and error” skills to complete the task (e.g., “Maybe you could turn it around. That piece doesn’t fit, try another. Take that piece back out and try another position”).
- Remind your child that there is more than one way to solve a problem. Often children try one way to complete something and if that doesn’t work, they give up. Give your child examples of this (e.g., when playing “Memory” and trying to match identical pictures on cards, if it is too hard to match them when the cards are face down, at first turn the cards face up to make the goal more realistic and the task more enjoyable).
- Praise your child’s effort (e.g., “Good trying”), praise his persistence (e.g., “It’s great that you are not giving up”), and praise his accomplishment (e.g., “You did it!”).