Children Are Competent

baby on laptopA friend of mine, an energetic young grandmother whom I see frequently, shared with me something that happened to her mother the previous week. For a variety of reasons the story needs to be told. Here’s the story in the great-grandmother’s words.

“I am a great-grandmother in rural North Texas living with my granddaughter and husband and their two children, a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. We had recently moved into a home that was nice but needs repairs. I was babysitting on a particular day, the grandson was napping and I went to the restroom. I stepped on a certain part of the floor and it gave way and I was trapped. The next thing I remembered was my great-granddaughter rubbing my cheeks and saying, ‘Grandma, what’s wrong? ‘ over and over. I realized I was sitting on one leg and the other leg was down in the floor. So all this time the little girl kept asking, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘I’m stuck. I need my phone.’ So she went to my room, dug into my purse till she found the phone, opened it and saw the red light. She crawled under my bed, unplugged the charger, brought the phone to me, then got up on the back of the toilet, plugged in the charger, pushed 911 and handed me the phone. I told the operator where I was and what had happened. Soon three fire departments, with about 10 firemen, showed up at my home. They pulled me up from the hole and we all went to the hospital.

My granddaughter is a very special little girl. She will always have a special place in my heart. As for me, I was fine when released from the hospital, nothing broken – just my pride. But one thing I know for sure, it would have been a lot worse if she hadn’t been there with me. This just shows little kids can do anything and learn anything if taught, but most things are learned just by watching.”

Obviously, this is a bright little girl. She had been taught by her parents how to use a phone. With no help from anyone she turns on the phone, uses the phone and takes pictures with it. The adults have long noticed how quickly she learns by merely observing what they are doing. The minds of children, even this young, are like voracious sponges soaking up the world they’re living in. It’s a mistake for parents to think little children won’t notice what’s going on, won’t think about it or won’t take it to heart. Like the parents of this little girl, we need to see to it that from a very young age a child knows important information, such as names and numbers, and how to perform any number of ordinary tasks that the adults can perform.

Kids learn constantly by observing the behavior of the parents and other adults. The combination of the examples we are setting for our children, coupled with our verbal instructions and explanations and allowing the children to begin to perform all the standard tasks as soon as they can exercise any ability in that direction, makes the fullest use of inquisitive young minds and adds a significant safety factor to the events of a child’s life.