Capable children see themselves as competent and powerful. They are able to handle challenges and age-appropriate tasks at each stage of development. They can manage their own emotions and can get along with others. How can parents help their children develop this sense of capability?
- Let your child try to do things on his own from a very young age. Don’t be too quick to jump in and fix. Step back and watch for a minute and be ready to support if needed.
- Encourage rather than praise. “You worked hard on that,” or “Tell me about your project,” is more effective a more effective practice than praise.
- Help your child learn that mistakes are opportunities to learn. As Ms. Frizzle of the Magic Schoolbus said, “Get messy. Take chances.” Children can be encouraged to figure out what happened, how it happened and what to do differently next time.
- Be curious and listen. Asking “What?” and “How” questions helps children begin to think things through.
- Affirm your child’s ability to impact the world. This helps her see herself as powerful. All children will learn reasonable limits to their power (e.g. I can’t make the sun come out and neither can Mommy). The more opportunities your child has to influence their world, the more she will see herself as capable. (e.g. If I stand on this stool, I can turn flip the switch and light up the room)