Giving a Child Unasked-For Help


The other day I went to the library with my older girls. Sophie and Gemma-Rose weren’t with us. I decided to choose a few books for my younger daughters, and when I got home, I presented them with the small pile of books I’d found. “I don’t know if you’ll like them, but you can read the first chapter and see what you think.” Then I added, “Perhaps we could read the first chapter of one of the books together.”

Gemma-Rose saw an opportunity. She quickly asked, “Can I read the first chapter to you? Will you listen to me read?”

I agreed and we snuggled on the sofa together, the book between us. We came to the end of the first chapter and Gemma-Rose decided she liked the story. “Can I read the rest of the book to you please, Mum?” What could I say? I had to encourage such an enthusiastic reader. Anyway, I was rather engrossed in the story myself. I also wanted to know what happened next. I said, “Yes.”

So every morning Gemma-Rose has treated me to a couple of chapters of her library book. I am enjoying being in the listener’s chair instead of the reader’s chair. Gemma-Rose’s reading is full of expression. She gives the characters different voices. She changes her tone and pitch. She does get a bit carried away every now and then, and doesn’t take the time to say every word. But I know she is just excited. She can’t wait to see what will happen next. I can glance at the page and fill in the missing words so that’s not really a problem. I know that pacing her words will improve with time.

Occasionally Gemma-Rose will mispronounce a word. Usually, these are unfamiliar words or foreign words or characters’ names which can be tricky, even for adults. They are not words I would expect an 8-year-old to pronounce correctly, especially an excited 8-year-old who is racing through the sentences, barely pausing for breath. But even the mispronunciation of words isn’t really a problem.

The problem occurs when I try and correct Gemma-Rose’s pronunciation. She huffs and puffs and her whole tone of voice changes as she says the word correctly. Do you know what I mean? Some kids just don’t like unasked for help.

I wondered if it was worth correcting these words. Was it worth getting Gemma-Rose all upset over a few wrongly said words? Should I just ignore them? I decided to ask Gemma-Rose what I should do.

“Do you want me to tell you the right way to say the words? Or would you prefer to say them your own way?”

Gemma-Rose thought for a moment. “I think you should tell me the right way,” she finally decided.

And we’ve had no problems whatsoever since Gemma-Rose made her own decision about how much help she wanted. Simple!

It seems to me that most adults don’t like to be given unasked for help either. It could be that children are no different. Well, at least Gemma-Rose is no different. She is just like her mother.

Of course, unasked for help with the chores is always welcome! I love that sort of help. That is a different situation all together.

The photo is of Gemma-Rose giving me some unasked for help while on holiday in Canberra recently.


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Comments

    • Vicky
    • November 14, 2012
    Reply

    It seems to work better for me, too, to ask the children if they'd like help before jumping in. They sometimes see it as a failure otherwise. I think that asking first might turn it into teamwork in their eyes, rather than a judgement, perhaps?

    God bless, Sue:-)

    1. Reply

      Vicky,

      Teamwork? Yes, I guess we are working together. Gemma-Rose knows she needs help but by asking her how much and what kind of help she wants, she feels in control. Adults are prone to jumping in, aren't they? At least I am!

    • Amy R
    • November 14, 2012
    Reply

    I so agree, Vicky: teamwork rather than a judgment. And I love your post, Sue. What a novel solution, asking your daughter if she wants to be corrected or not. And then once she decided she did want to hear it pronounced correctly, she no longer minded you saying it. I realize I'm just saying all over again what you so ably wrote – to help myself remember it.

    Unasked for help with chores – that is THE way to my heart!

    1. Reply

      Amy,

      If was such a simple solution but it took me a long time to work it out! I am so slow sometimes.

      I hope you get lots of unasked for help with your chores! I agree that this sort of help results in a very happy mother!!

    • Elisa
    • November 29, 2012
    Reply

    Haha, I love it (the pic). I realized the same with Isaiah, who turned 7 today. He strongly, VERY strongly dislikes any time I correct him on ANYthing. It's v. frustrating. He also just won't take instructions and sometimes only hears what he wants to hear and then is dissapoinetd when I point out the misunderstanding. What can you do. I try to be gentle and I do try to keep my mouth shut, when I can. =)

    1. Reply

      Elisa,

      I am sure some children are more difficult to handle than others. Some adults too! Working out the best way to deal with our children can be very tricky. "I try to be gentle and I do try to keep my mouth shut, when I can. =)" That sounds perfect to me! I wish I could remember not to open my mouth too sometimes…

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