Why it's critical to let kids be

Why it's critical to let kids be

Lilia and Franky were playing in the backyard after school today when she came running in with a handful of green beans. "I had to get them all before they turn into popsicles!"

It was cold here in the Chicago area this morning. Some of the suburbs even got snow.

She was right about grabbing those green beans that she's so proud of. The first time around, our green beans didn't make it. Later in the summer, after I pulled out some of our crazy pumpkin vines, we had a big patch of open dirt.

Lilia asked if she could plant more seeds. I handed her the seed packets and she chose green beans. She walked out to the garden, planted the seeds and watered them.

Sure enough, before we knew it seedlings were popping up. Shortly thereafter, green beans followed. Not many, but enough for all of us to be excited.

After she brought the green beans in today, she asked for a bowl to gather all of the green tomatoes. Franky ran after her and they collected all those that were still clinging to the now wilting tomato plants.

Basket 'o green tomatoes

Basket 'o green tomatoes

Franky had to stuff some in his pocket

Franky had to stuff some in his pocket

Growing those green beans and picking them today might seem like a small step, but for Lilia, it was huge. Sometimes I want to say, "You can do it this way, or that way, or let me help you." Ever since we started this year long adventure, I've been getting better at letting the kids "just be".

Look what happens when you teach a girl to plant and then give her a packet of seeds. She grew her own beans, picked them and ate them. The pride that she had was because she did this thing, growing her own little bunch of food, by herself.

I was at the park a couple of weeks ago and I ran into one of Lilia's old preschool teachers. She has two sons, one in high school and the other in college. She was full of pride talking about her boys.

She told me that she taught them many things from the time that they were young, as any parent would. She gave them tools, so to speak. Then she sat back a little so they could use those tools, but also find their own way.

I like this way of letting kids figure out themselves and their world. Lessons are learned from mistakes, accomplishing something creates self-confidence and discoveries pique curiosity.

No hovering, helicoptering or whatever the catchphrase is these days. Just let them be.

If you would like to read more about our family's adventure to try one new thing, every day, for an entire year, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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