Promoting Preschoolers' Self-Reliance (page 2)
When parents assist their preschool children in their goal of mastering a variety of activities, they (a) help them learn responsible ways to behave, (b) promote their development of a positive self-image, and (c) contribute to their self-reliance. Self-reliance in young children refers to the ability to behave in ways that are considered by parents and other caregivers to be acceptable. Parents might encourage young children's self-reliance in a number of ways. Mauro and Harris (2000) studied the influence of parents on their young children's self-control and self-regulatory behavior by comparing parents' childrearing patterns to their children's ability to delay gratification. They found that young children whose parents use an authoritative parenting approach are better able to delay gratification than are children of permissive parents.
What This Means for Professionals
Parents should expect their young children to become increasingly more self-reliant and should not continually do things for them that they can do for themselves. On the other hand, when encouraging children to perform self-help and simple household responsibilities, parents need to keep in mind that young children will (a) take longer to perform these tasks, (b) need assistance along the way, and (c) require parental patience with their less-than-perfect performance. For example, in picking up toys after play, preschool children cannot be expected to clean up afterward efficiently, quickly, or completely. A positive way to promote the picking up of toys is to help the child with the job while showing the child how to do certain things and continually making favorable comments regarding the child's performance. These behaviors of parents serve as reinforcement and encouragement to young children, motivate them to try to do a good job, and help them feel proud of the level of performance they are currently capable of demonstrating.
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