We try to anticipate their every want and need. We believe that a well fed child is a happy child, so food is never served late. Many parents can be found constantly tying their kids shoes because they’re running late for the play-date that was set up for them.
We tend to hover in our mommy helicopters. Many of us believe there are too many crazy people in the world for them to walk home from school, so we pick them up. We only allow them to play outside where we can see them.
Now as a parent of two children with high-functioning Autism, this methodology has been critical for most of my boys’ lives; but they’re starting to get older. They’re now…teenagers! And in the last couple of years, we have been focusing mostly on teaching them life skills such as laundry, cooking, shopping, etc. I find, however, that my boys surprise me the most when I occasionally let my supermom cape…fall. One morning, we were running late trying to get ready for school. Before I could put my cape on, I saw that my youngest son got his entire lunch ready without my consistent “friendly reminders” (a.k.a. nagging) of what to pack next. He knew exactly what to do… all on his own! Guess we can now check that off the list
Last week my oldest son, now in 10th grade, was being released from school earlier than I had expected. Oops! Guess my cape fell off! He couldn’t find my car in the parking lot. So after waiting a while, he began to walk home. Of course this was the only day his phone battery completely died because we forgot to power it up the night before. Oops #2: my back-up cape came off! After a complete panic, which included running through the school halls and texting the principal and teachers, I learned of his location which was about a half mile down the road. At least he was going in the right direction–which was a big accomplishment that he knew where to go! When I reached him, he was sweating…and smiling ear-to-ear. He loved it! This is a boy who never exercises despite all my prodding! He felt so independent and proud of himself. Now he says he wants to do it every day! So we talked about never getting into anyone’s car, not even if his “friends” ask him. He’s now walking a few blocks until he reaches my car. He’s gaining his independence, and finally getting some daily exercise!
Now every child is different–especially those with special needs. My point is simply this: don’t assume your child is not capable of doing certain tasks. Even if it is just letting them try to put on their own shoes and find the correct shoe for the right foot. Take some time occasionally from your busy schedule and let your supermom cape fall off. Hopefully, your little one will surprise you too.
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