When J was almost 1 and just learning to draw, I got him started by showing him how to draw a circle and a smiley face inside it. The boy was ECSTATIC… he quickly got to work drawing a ba-gazillion smiley faces.
He eventually went from stick figures to teaching himself how to draw some pretty cool anime illustrations. He’s following some of the most successful animators today, and learn from their advanced techniques… without any additional help from mom, the stick figure queen.
In middle school, when he was confused and growing frustrated about a new math formula, I showed him what I (worst math student in the history of ever) did to finally understand it.
That simple push gave him the confidence to break down any new information he found somewhat confusing, until it was clear. He’s now so far ahead, I wouldn’t be able to help him even if I wanted to… lol.
When he was taking Taekwondo, I showed him tricks for stronger, more solid kicks.
He passed with high praise from Sa Bum Nim… and quickly progressed up the ranks, consistently improving on his form and techniques. I no longer had to morph into kung fu panda mommy.
When J started high school, I gave him a simple template for “Thank You” messages to send his teachers at the end of each semester and told him to reword it to make it his own…
Being that his vocabulary is 5x the size of my own and his ability to articulate his thoughts into words faaar surpass mine… J’s learned to have the most incredible and meaningful dialogues with his high school teachers and college professors.
See, if there are things you specialize in, if you have strong connections your child can benefit from, if you know cool hacks to get things done more efficiently… SHARE THEM WITH YOUR KIDS. As parents, you get to share your knowledge and gifts with your kids to give them a leg up.
And NO, this is NOT even the least bit comparable to the recent college admissions scandal. What those parents did was so over-the-top harmful to their children’s self-esteem. Sad.
The trick is to equip your kids with the knowledge and skills to help overcome hurdles… then STEP BACK.
Don’t immediately jump in to save and solve everything for them. That’s not fair – to THEM. Srsly, that’s setting them up to lose confidence in themselves and become dependent on you (or anyone else who can help them) for everything.
I know it feels good to be needed… and their dependency in you might feel like it’s keeping them from growing up too quickly. But in REAL LIFE… depriving your kids of developing their problem solving and stress coping skills, is NOT cool.
And if they come to you again in the future, ask them… “Remember how we solved it that last time? I’d like to see how you can apply that here” … then observe and encourage. Show them how they can search for answers online… heck, you can learn how to do pretty much anything on Google! Encourage resourcefulness and creativity.
This is what I did and continue to do for my son… and it’s what works best for us. Joshua took what I’ve taught him when he was younger and improved them by 1000%… and as a result, my son has one the most effective stress coping skills that I know of and he thinks nothing of figuring things out himself.