How to Help Children: allow them to learn some lessons the hard way.

Ok, I know this example is a little extreme, but the point is excellent. Out of deep love and an urge to protect them from harm, parents can sometimes take away the treasure of letting their child discover, experience and formulate opinions for themselves. Many parents are surprised and proud when they do.

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to try coffee. Every adult I knew drank it all the time, but told me that it was bad for me and tasted terrible (as they took another sip). “Why do you drink it all the time then?” “I just got used to it, now I love it” was the common response.

One day after a gymnastics class, I was sitting in the lobby with a friend waiting for my mom. There, on the other side of the room, was a free coffee dispenser with little cups next to it. My six year old mind made some quick calculations. Did I dare…? Oh, yes I did.

IT WAS DISGUSTING. I never asked my parents for a sip of coffee again; I didn’t touch coffee after that until my senior year of high school.

Point being, a big part of how to help children is by allowing them to try things for themselves – even if you think (or fully know) that it’s a mistake. Nine times out of ten, after having an experience of their own, your child will probably come to a solid conclusion that you agree with.

Besides, whenever you make something into a forbidden fruit, that “fruit” suddenly becomes so much more exciting and appealing… what conclusions do you think a boy like Calvin would have reached if his mom had just lectured him on the hazards of smoking instead of letting him try one?

Kids learn some of the greatest lessons by making their own mistakes. I sure did…


What lessons did you learn the hard way?

Leave a comment below!


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2 Responses to “Friday Funny: How to Help Children”

  1. I totally agree. My parents used this tactic with my early beer fascination. One sip and I never asked again. Fast forward to my kids… 3 year old son pesters Dad for a sip of beer. “Sure… but you aren’t going to like it!” Son tries the beer… and loves it! *sigh* Crap. 🙂

    • Mo says:

      Ahh, the inevitable backfire.. nothing works ALL the time 🙂
      I wonder if your son’s reaction would’ve been different if Dad hadn’t told him he wouldn’t like it..?

      My mom told me a similar story: she and her younger brother wanted a taste of the whiskey my grandfather was drinking. My grandfather said “Ok, but you have to drink it all at once” and poured them each half a shot. (I think they were 7 & 5). They drank it down, screamed, ran outside and circled the house a couple of times yelling about the burn!

      Lesson? 100% learned.

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