DSM: Re: How to properly guide?

Jeanne Pickering (pickeringjeanne@hotmail.com)
Sat, 16 Dec 2000 00:17:51 -0000

Hello Cindy,

My nine year old son has taken to not tying his shoes. He walks around continually with his shoelaces flapping on the ground. The first time I told him that he was going to trip on them, fall and possibly hurt himself, he told me quite firmly that he wasn't. I decided that this is not an issue I need to pursue with him and he could just experience it himself. I do insist that he walk a shoelace distance away from me because it is not fair that I should be the one who steps on his shoelaces and makes him fall. He has agreed to this.

What I have found most interesting is how many people try to get him to tie his shoelaces. Friends, family, teachers, shopkeepers, total strangers in the street point out his untied shoelaces to him and try to talk him into tying them. One of his teachers at school begged him to let her tie them (he graciously deigned to allow her to do it.) He takes the comments in stride and I think now has developed some pride in his quirk.

I have found this to be another example of what I believe is a basic part of human nature: we just can't help telling other people what to do. We do it with big things and we do it with small things. It's very hard to not think we know better and to give a little or a lot of instruction.

I firmly believe your daughter will learn that the letters of her name should go in a particular order and then ask for help with that if she wants it. I also firmly believe that when she does learn it, she will learn it more profoundly because of her initial pride in what she can do now. Until then I would advise you to just continue accepting the gift she's giving you - her joy and pride. That will be her best defense when the almost inevitable happens and someone tells her she's been doing it "wrong." Some of the mistakes I've made with my children that I regret the most are when I failed to celebrate their happinesses with them because I was worried about what somebody else had or would say.

BTW, he hasn't tripped and fallen yet.

Jeanne Pickering

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