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I Let My Kids Use Sharp Knives

Jul 9, 2019

I hovered over her while she examined the watermelon trying to figure out the best way to cut it into cubes. I gave instructions in holding the knife and which direction she should cut. I even tried to hold her hand to guide her when she finally let out an exasperated sigh claiming, “I can do it myself!”

She was right. And when I finally stepped back, she did it.

I realized quickly that the message I was sending my daughter was that I didn’t feel as though she was capable.

I know I’m not the only parent guilty of stepping in to do what my kids are fully capable of doing.


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Sometimes it’s out of convenience — I can do it faster and with less mess.

Often it’s done out of fear. We are afraid of our kids getting hurt, being disappointed or letting them fail.

The reality is that life is full of hard things.

From the moment our kids enter this world their lives are filled with things that don’t come easily. Tasks require patience and resilience.

Our kids need to be given the opportunity to fall down because that is the only way that they learn to pick themselves back up.

When a friend’s little one was learning to walk, I witnessed her follow him around relentlessly catching him each time he lost his balance. She chased him around wherever he went and when she got tired of chasing, she picked him up. It looked exhausting. Finally, I pointed out that maybe the best way for him to learn to walk was to fall down.

Our kids need to be given the opportunity to fall down because that is the only way that they learn to pick themselves back up.

Our instinct as parents is to protect them from getting hurt physically and emotionally, and to protect them from what is hard. We want to make it easy for them.

Perhaps we have taken it a little too far.


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In our effort to shield them from the dangers of the world, we have sheltered them from the daily struggles of life that are preventing them from learning about perseverance. It is keeping them from figuring out how to overcome struggle.

It is leading them to believe that they aren’t capable of doing hard things.

My son learned to ride his bike without training wheels in a few hours. We had moved to a new neighbourhood and all the kids on the street were riding solo. I could see the determination in his eyes as he watched them ride and he asked us to take off his training wheels.

I ran behind him holding on to the back of the seat until my fingers could no longer stay connected and each time the bike started to tip I lunged to catch him. When he tumbled to the ground and skidded across the pavement I gasped and ran to him. Through tears and gritted teeth he told me to leave him. He pulled himself back up onto his bike and tried again. And again. And again.

When we give our kids the space to try and allow them the freedom to fail, we will often find that they are capable of so much more than we expected.

For a couple of hours I watched him fall and get back up, and it took every ounce of strength in me not to catch him each time. But finally, with scraped and bloody knees, he took off right to the end of the street. The grin he wore from ear to ear as he rode back in our direction was proof that he had learned the value of working at something until you get it and the pay off when you don’t give up.

When we give our kids the space to try and allow them the freedom to fail, we will often find that they are capable of so much more than we expected.

Any success comes from discipline and hard work. Those are skills that our children have to develop, and it won’t always be easy for us to sit on the sidelines and watch. It can be hard to know when we should step in to help and when we should sit back and let them figure it out.

The best thing we can do is give our kids the chance to show what they can do. Let them make dinner, pack their lunches, fold their clothes, mow the lawn and cut their own watermelon. Give them age-appropriate chores and responsibilities. Parents need to learn to give up some of the control over these tasks and accept that it might take a little longer or leave a bit of a mess.


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When we give our kids the space to do hard things we are letting them know that we think they are capable. They will gain confidence, become more independent and resilient, and at the same time, it can help take some tasks off of our plate. There is no reason we have to do it all.

Parenting out of fear never leads to positive results. This parenting thing is not easy. Watching my child struggle is one of the hardest things, but the outcome makes it completely worth it, for both of us. And I guarantee that kids are capable of doing things we never thought possible.

Article Author Natalie Romero
Natalie Romero

Natalie’s passion for writing was reignited as she blogged her way through the pain of her son’s health issues and NICU stay. She is the wife of the world’s greatest foot rubber and mother to an amazingly loyal little boy and a fiercely independent little girl. An HR professional by day and a freelance writer and blogger by night, Natalie is getting a crash course in the juggling act that is the life of a working mother, though she does occasionally drop a ball or two! After spending much of her life trying to be perfect she has learned to rock her shortcomings and is not afraid to admit when she’s failed. This parenting thing can be tough and Natalie believes the best way to survive it is by keeping it real and by leaning on your tribe.

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