Choo-choo was playing with one of his new Christmas toys the other day. It’s a tablet-like one that teaches shapes, numbers, and letters. I heard the toy instruct Choo-choo how to draw the shape he had chosen: “Start here and drag along the line to here” with corresponding arrows on the screen for him to follow.
“I’m trying to, guy!” with way more than just a hint of frustration. Of course, this was soon followed with, “Mommy! I need you.”
I will admit that my anxiety spiked because of this. I wanted to go to him immediately, but then I stopped to think about why. He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t in danger. He was simply getting annoyed that he couldn’t figure out his new toy.
There was a strong urge in me to run to him and help make it all better, but what would Choo-choo learn from that? How to get Mommy to do everything for him? How to never problem solve on his own? How to give up before finding a solution?
None of those appealed to me.
“Just keep trying, sweetie. I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it soon,” I told him.
My son sighed heavily in yet more frustration but didn’t cry or whine. He just kept working at that toy.
I was only five feet away, close enough to observe. I saw the face scrunches. I heard the sighs and deep breaths. Then I heard this: “Mommy, I made a circle!”
Ahh. There it was, friends. The moment I had hoped for. Choo-choo tried again and again until he figured it out. It was the moment I feared might not happen, which would only make my kid cry and bring out some major mom guilt.
But I also believed that wonderful moment would happen. I knew he could do it so long as he didn’t give up.
As someone who has given up on a lot of things because they were too difficult or I couldn’t figure any of it out, I wanted a different outcome for my little boy. I know he won’t learn anything if I keep jumping in and doing everything for him.
I have to say that I am so proud of Choo-choo for continuing to try despite feeling like he might not figure it out and also of me for not stepping in and taking over. After the above incident, I did walk over and play on the toy with Choo-choo. I showed him some of the shapes he was having difficulty with and the key to it not making him start over. I also asked him to tell me what was the biggest issue he was having and genuinely listened to his answer without coming up with my own solutions first.
This is sort of new territory for me right now, as I could possibly have been called a “helicopter mom” before. But I know it is all worth it to relax, let Choo-choo solve what problems he can, and step in only when needed.