Small Consistent Victories that Pile up Over the Course of Time Make the Biggest Difference
I saw a mother once buy a small pack of Pringles for her three-year-old daughter. The little girl gave a real fight to open the package. Her tiny fingers hadn’t acquired the necessary amount of strength or skillfulness yet, so the girl resorted to her teeth.
She was struggling, but if she had two more minutes or so in her disposal, to inspect the object, to understand why it resisted so she could try a different approach, then I am pretty confident she would manage to deliver.
We could accomplish everything, if we were given the time.
Even if she didn’t, though, at least she would be content with having tried her best. The little girl would have realised her limitations — hence she would get an idea on how to overcome them — and only then she would have asked for her mother’s valuable assistance, when she actually needed it.
Before the little girl had the chance to test her abilities for the second time, her mother repeatedly demanded that she hand over the pack of chips.
“Give it to me. Give it to me! Let me open this for you!”
You could tell of how much importance it was for the girl, how desperately she aspired to make it on her own. She brought the package closer to her chest, unwilling to give in, but after her mother’s furious instructions the little girl eventually conformed.
Her mother removed the plastic lid and tore the paper. Then she gave the package back to her daughter; however, the little girl’s face was not delighted or thrilled with the unhindered treat.
The chips weren’t as tasty, because they lacked the sweet sense of accomplishment, the building block for fundamental skills like self-confidence and concepts like self-worth.
What the mother failed to see is that the chips were never truly the goal, only a fortunate byproduct of the real target; to open the package. Meeting that goal would be enough reward on its own.
The real compensation for overcoming the obstacle and arriving at your destination is the satisfaction that you made it.
What the Little Girl Learned Instead
This kind of parental interference seems trivial, but it will prove to be devastating down the road.
The little girl interpreted her mother’s meddling as a lack of agency by her side. She deduced that she can’t make it on herself; that she will constantly be in need of saving; that, since someone willing enough to solve her problems will always be around, she doesn’t even have to try.
The little girl learns that everything is within her reach, obtainable without any effort or struggle. Thus she doesn’t learn to appreciate and be grateful, and so she grows bitter.
If you are unable to appreciate the little things and distinguish the beauty in the mundane, then you are unable to enjoy life.
Maybe the mother thought she acted from a place of love and wanted her daughter to see that she will always be there to support her. However, if this parental policy continues, it is only a matter of time before the little girl grows into an irresponsible, demanding, resentful and ungrateful teenager.
The more you interfere with something, the more it moves away from your desired outcome.
Her mother wanted to help, but she only managed to undermine her daughter’s future independence and wither her true potential.