Raising Empowered Children Through Mastery Moments


Written By Kelli Perkins

What is one thing that you do for your child out of habit, rather than necessity?

I asked myself this question after taking the "Can Do Challenge" on the Fishful Thinking website.

"Should I make a list?" I thought.

Having a five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son, I've gotten into the "habit" of doing pretty much everything for them. I give them small jobs here and there like picking up toys, helping set the table, and getting themselves dressed. Sometimes it's just easier (and faster) to do those things myself.

As I read more about Empowerment (belief in one's self)—one of Fishful Thinking's five key ingredients—and Mastery Moments, an Empowerment activity, I realized that I needed to be providing more opportunities for my kids to contribute, develop their skills, and make choices.

As I was folding clothes later on that day, I decided to turn this mundane chore into a mastery moment for my son by asking him to find all of the black socks in the pile and count them. "Oh! O-tay, Mom!" he said excitedly. (He loves to help me with the laundry, especially if he gets to spray the stain remover.)

He counted 11 black socks and then announced, "One sock is missing!" I was so surprised—not that the sock was missing (socks disappear on a regular basis around here)—but that he realized one of the pairs was not complete. He was really paying attention.

I was also surprised this week when my five-year-old daughter, Abby, got the bread out of the pantry, a piece of cheese out of the refrigerator, slapped 'em together, and exclaimed "Look, Mom! I made a sandwich ALL BY MYSELF!"

The next day she insisted on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich—a slightly messier process. I had to fight the urge to intervene as she plopped a huge glob of peanut butter on the bread and struggled to spread it evenly. Noah had to get in on the act too. I assisted him a little to save the bread from being completely mangled, but the following day, when he asked to make another one, I mustered the strength to let him do it 95% by himself. He was so pleased with his culinary creation that he ate the whole thing—even the crust!
In an effort to promote their independence, build their self-confidence, and create even more mastery moments, I am taking on The CAN DO Challenge to resist that inclination to always do things for my kids. And when I feel that urge to intervene "out of habit, rather than necessity," I will remind myself of this Fishful Thinking Empowerment tip:

Creating space for a child's exploration of independence can be challenging, but the opportunities for the growth and confidence it provides are worth celebrating!

Bio: Kelli Perkins blogs at Writing the Waves of Motherhood. She is a certified elementary educator, freelance writer, Fishful Thinking faculty member, and proud mother of two. She holds a Master's degree in early childhood education and has a BS in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.
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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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