The Great Map Adventure:

When Kids Don’t Feel Capable

The weather was nice and the kids were being annoying.

They had been playing in the house so nicely all morning. But now they were following me around whining about being bored.  All three of us knew this was really a ploy to see if they could get extra screen time. It never ceases to amaze me how hard they try for this, even though it never works. 

The Great Map Adventure

I challenged them to find something to do with themselves. But this time they were not listening. I was warming up to have a “loud discussion” with them when I ran my 3 steps

Sighing and Seeing got me thinking about how the kids often do best when their imaginations are engaged. Then I remembered that recently my son has been very excited because one of his best friends is moving into the neighborhood. This was especially good news because their new house was well within the range where he was allowed to ride his bike by himself. 

I suggested the boys ride their bikes to discover where the new house was. They expressed anxiety, they weren’t sure where to turn right when they usually turned left. “Hold on a second,” I said. Moments later I returned from the printer with a map to the friend’s house. “I used the map app on the computer. Look, it shows the way and has written turn by turn instructions.” 

The kids still were not buying it. This was not sounding fun to them. 

How does imagination work?

I sighed to avoid telling them to “scram.” Imagination. Right. 

“Hey, I’ll pack your backpacks with water bottles and I think we have a couple of those little boxes of raisins you can use as provisions.”

“Provisions,” said my younger one. “Like an adventure!” Exactly!

The older one was still not happy. Why in the world would he not want to do this? He talked daily about how great it would be when he could ride his bike to this very house that he was avoiding finding.

I really looked at him. And then I realized he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to do it. He would be the leader, so his little brother was not concerned. But he was.

I became more determined! This was absolutely within their capabilities! I wanted them to know this and to enjoy feeling pride when they accomplished it.

Fortunately, this was one of those times that having a younger brother was a good thing. “Let’s go! Come on! It will be an adventure!”he urged his big brother.

Soon, they were off. They were gone for only fifteen minutes, and when they returned they were all smiles, chattering about their ride. “Mom, his house is really nice,” said my older son. “Yeah, it was a really nice house,” said his little brother.

When I asked them about following the map, the boys shrugged off my attempt to point out their accomplishment. “It was easy, Mom.” “Yeah, totally easy.” They seemed to be completely unaware that they had ever doubted their ability to do this by themselves. They had already integrated this into their self image and what they could do. I was tickled pink.

The best part was that their moods had lifted, and they quickly ran away from me into the basement and started playing again. 

Disclaimer: This article represents general education and does not constitute medical advice. My ideas are mine alone.

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Author: Alison Escalante MD

Alison Escalante MD is a Pediatrician, TEDx Speaker, Writer and Mother on a mission to help parents caught in the culture of criticism.

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