Mom’s Facebook Post Serves As a Reminder For Why We Need To Let Kids Struggle


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7AM: My 5-year-old made her own breakfast this morning. By the time she was finished pouring her cereal, a mountain of Rice Krispies littered the countertop. “Ugh!” she grunted. When she added the milk, it overflowed the bowl and dripped down the front of her nightgown. “You just do it!” she insisted. “No,” I responded. She sighed and complained.

I let her struggle. 

8AM: She tied her shoes. “The bunny ear goes around the tree and into the hole,” she repeated. “Aaand then you pull it tight!” Her small hands fumbled over long, white laces. A loose bow dangled limply over the side. “This shoe is bad!” she yelled, smacking it with her hand. “You just do it!” she said. “No, it’s your shoe,” I responded. She sighed and complained.

I let her struggle.

9AM: She rode her bike to school. About halfway there, she decided she was done. Finito. Her legs were sore; her helmet was messing up her perfect ponytail. “Can you push it?” she asked. “No, it’s your responsibility,’’ I said. She sighed and complained… all the way to school.

I let her struggle.

3PM: She completed her homework. It was harder than she expected. Some of the words were spelled funny; the math problems had multiple steps. “I can’t do it!” she yelled. “Yes, you can!” I responded. “I’m bad at math,” she complained. “No, you’re not,” I corrected her. “Can you do it?” she asked. “No,” I answered. She sighed and complained.

I let her struggle.

7PM: She tucked herself in bed. She didn’t want to sleep yet, though the dark circles around her eyes told a different story. She wanted another kiss, another glass of water, another story, an escort to the bathroom, someone to tuck her in again and again. “MOMMY!” she yelled from the top of the stairs. I didn’t respond. She sighed and complained.

I let her struggle.

5 minutes later she was asleep.

Every day, my daughter struggles because she is 5 years old and all of this, all of it, is new to her.

I let her struggle because, before I know it, she will be 6 and then 10 and then 20 and she will leave this loving home of ours and be on her own, an independent woman in the real world.

If I jumped in there every time my daughter struggled, I would be doing her a disservice because she needs to learn that she is fully capable of completing tasks on her own, that she doesn’t need me to step in and save her.

This is the message I hope she is getting from me en route to adulthood.

Sure, I could have poured her cereal or tied her shoes; it would have saved her (and me) a lot of frustration, in the moment. But, then, she would have missed out on the confidence that comes from mastering something by herself.

And I would be, unintentionally, sending her the message that she was incapable of doing these things on her own.

And she is absolutely capable. 

I will always be there to show my children the way, help them – if and when they need it – but what I will not do is subvert their efforts and learning by either doing their work for them or letting them give up. 

Our children won’t be living with us forever; we won’t always be there to fix their problems, help them avoid mistakes or tie their shoes and, even if we could, we shouldn’t.


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