Published On: Mon, Jul 15th, 2013

Setting Your Kids Up For Failure

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul
Setting Your Kids Up For FailureWhen we realise we are pregnant most of us wish for nothing more than a normal healthy child. But once they come into the world and start to grow, we begin to want more. No longer is it enough for them to simply be normal, now we want them to excel, so much so we can fall into the trap of trying to teach them skills they simply aren’t ready for. While I believe in running beside kids who want to learn, the problem lies when we begin to expect them to know because we have simply shown them. Skills taught too early often result in a whack to self esteem & ounces of frustration & annoyance from us. Here I have listed 7 common skills that we try to teach kids too early.
  1. Sorry
    We think by making our kids say sorry that we are infact teaching them to be sorry and to regret their actions. But for young children, sorry is not a concept they can understand. Toddlers are especially still quite egocentric with their “me me” mentality reigning. To be sorry it helps to understand how your actions have affected the feelings of others, & unfortunately for the good old toddler there is little chance of that. Once they reach the preschool years they become less “me” orientated & are now able to consider the feelings of others a little better.
    Danielle’s age recommendation: With children of all ages, demanding a sorry you simply get a hollow sorry packed full of resentment. Encourage the sorry, not demand as soon as they begin to talk.
  1. Getting Dressed
    The organisational skills that go into getting dressed are complex. There’s issues such as inside out, back to front and upside down. There’s also complex fine motor tasks involved with clips and zips, matching and doing up buttons, and sequencing of events as children must work out what goes on first and then, and then and then. Dressing takes young children a long time due to all these things they must remember, and because of this we can become frustrated witnessing such slow progress.
    Danielle’s age recommendation: 4+ is a good starting point here.
  1. Toilet Training
    I believe this mistake to be widespread and I have no doubt that early childhood environments everywhere who have a toddlers room would agree. Parents seem to want kids toilet trained as soon as possible. I believe this to be due to two reasons. The first to get rid of the cost of nappies and two, to not have to bother with changing nappies anymore! Any sane person could understand the driving forces there. Problem is we don’t take our children’s lead when it comes to toilet training. They have accidents we continue. They have more accidents we still continue. They have more accidents and we get down right annoyed! Many accidents usually mean that you have started too early to toilet train for that child & that you need to ditch it and start again at another time.
    Danielle’s age recommendation: Start at 2.5 years unless your child has shown you they are interested, only then try earlier. Some at 2.5 years will have many accidents. If so consider ditching toilet training until they are in their late 2’s.
  1. Drinking From A Cup
    Children around 3 years of age start to be able to use a cup with little if no spilling. Any time sooner you are asking for accidents. Cups with lids on were always a winner in our home. With three children in 16 months I had little time for spillages and only found myself getting frustrated at having to clean up yet another spill. Until children become better with spacial and body awareness, it’s not a matter of if, but when you will be cleaning up that next mess.
    Danielle’s age recommendation: 3+ years
  1. Reading and Writing
    Preschool teachers everywhere are inundated with parents who want their children to learn to read and write. Many kids develop an interest in reading and writing in their late preschool years around the ages of 4 or 5 with girls generally picking up this interest a little earlier than boys. While exposure to print is vital, trying to force an interest can make kids run the other way. You will know when your child is ready to learn when they start to attempt to write their name, point to letters and words in their environment and ask you questions about print.
    Danielle’s age recommendation: 4+
  1. Shoes On
    Of course this can depend on the type of shoes you’re asking your child to put on. Shoes with buckles and shoelaces are super tricky and not achievable for most preschool aged children. Even early school starters can still find laces tricky due to the fine motor combined with following a complex task difficult.
    Danielle’s recommendation: for a regular slip ons 3.5+ starting point. For tying shoelaces don’t even both till 6.5+.
  1. Getting Kids Out Of The Cot Too Early
    Once kids start to climb out of the cot themselves, this can be a good indicator that it’s time for a big bed. What can also prompt many of us to get our kids out of the cot earlier is the fact that another baby is coming along. At least a month before the new baby comes, make the transfer to the big bed so you have some time to assess how it’s going to work, because if it’s a disaster, it gives you a little time to work out a new plan. Keep that kid in the cot until they can climb out OR start to need to get themselves to the toilet at night.
    Danielle’s age recommendation: 2.5 plus unless you need the cot. For children who come out early remember that side rail.

After saying all that. I am also a great believer in teaching kids what they want to learn. If the desire to learn comes from your child, your job here is to run alongside them and teach them. Simply be mindful with what your throwing at them, because ask too much of then too early, when it does come time they are ready to learn that task, hopefully you have not left a sour taste in their mouths from a previous bad experience.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2013
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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