My boss said to me the other day, “don’t coach someone out of a burning building.” She was making an excellent point about ‘teaching a man to fish’ versus when it’s appropriate to just give the poor guy a fish.
I strive for teachable moments as often as possible. For one, it’s literally my job to help people help themselves. But for two, I’m a parent – and if there’s one thing I believe as a parent it’s that there’s no faster path to ruining your kids than to do too much for them.
My two oldest are 8 and 3, and they’re both enormous “helpers.” It’s all they want to do. I’m cooking dinner, they want to be in every step of the process. And I love it! I let them; I encourage them. I give them jobs to do – open these cans, mix these things, put out silverware, and so on. It makes the whole process fun (and they eat much more eagerly if they “made” dinner!). Even if it takes a little longer, it flies by.
When they want to use a sharp knife, I let them. When they want to work an appliance, I show them how. I don’t do it for them – I take the time to show them the right ways.
Well, most of the time.
Tonight, as I was opening the (pre-heated) oven to put a casserole in, my youngest (not yet 2) DOVE for the open door. This was Danger Baby’s moment, and he WENT for it. I caught him by the scruff and immediately deposited him into his playpen so I could resume dinner. We didn’t have a conversation about how hot things can hurt you, I didn’t take the time to carefully supervise him getting progressively closer to the oven until the increasing heat made him want to pull back on his own, etc. I just picked him up and moved him.
Not every moment is a teachable one. Sometimes you just need to keep your toddler out of the oven.