Let’s talk plants for minute or two. In what shape would a plant be if it received no sunlight, water or oxygen? Would it grow as strong and healthy if one of these was missing?
When it comes to our children, we always want to make sure we are growing the healthiest, strongest and happiest children. Yet we tend to do a few things that hinder this growth.
Now I know you’re all thinking that you’re doing the best that you can, and that your way is right! But if you are doing any of the following things, then it’s time to stop. Here are some tips on how to raise an independent child.
1. Stop doing everything for your child.
Even at an early stage, if your children can eat alone, let them! They might be too young to peel a banana but if they want to, let them try. You can always go back to helping after a few minutes, but if they do it on their own, then they just picked up a new skill! If they want to dress themselves then let them. You can give them two alternatives to choose from, but give them the chance to do it on their own and let their skills develop.
2. Stop focusing on the end result (especially grades)!
We tend to appreciate effortless genius, right? The reality of the situation is that most successful people actually failed more than once – and got back up and tried again. When a parent praises the results, it shifts the child’s focus to the outcome and not the process, teaching them that it’s more important. But it isn’t. No child is likely to get everything right from the first try, so we need to make sure we praise all the effort that went into the task itself. For example, instead of saying what a beautiful painting your child drew, try saying “WOW! You must’ve worked really hard on that!”.
3. Stop pretending like you know all the answers
I hate to burst your bubble, but you don’t. You’re not perfect and that’s okay, you’re a human just like the rest of us. Which means it’s okay for you to not know all the answers or to make a mistake.
Your kids need to understand this, they need to see you struggle and work hard on something and even fail at some point. Show them that it’s fine to make a mistake as long as you learn from it and discover the best way to deal with a mistake.
Children watch us and figure out what we’re doing, so make sure you’re a model of resilience and allow yourself to share the emotions accompanied with each mistake or struggle. Even if you have to fake a situation appropriate for their age, like failing at baking a cake!.
4. Stop solving your child’s problems
We all worry our children might suffer stress or feel overpowered. But we shouldn’t. In fact, some stress is actually good for you. If a child is exposed to a manageable stressful situation, as long as they are supported by an adult, that child will learn how to deal with the stressor (the thing causing the stress) positively and with time, become better able to handle life’s obstacles and problems. If the stressor seems too big for the child and they feel like they don’t have parental guidance or support, then most probably this will tip the situations towards a negative outcome. Which brings us to the next point!
After all, problem solving skills are one of the most important skills we can build and nourish in our kids. Without it, they would really struggle! You might think that it’s your job to solve their problems, but it’s not. It’s theirs. That’s how it should be to build a problem solver. It starts at an early age.
5. And finally stop just existing together, and start building a connection.
In the early stages of life, a connection is built among children and their caregiver. if they’re hungry, sleepy or cranky, they usually find their parents are there to comfort them. Building trust with their children translates into understanding that whatever hardship comes their way, they know that they have the support of their parent. These strong relationships help build resilience; they usually help build skills too, by teaching a child how to plan and regulate a behavior or even how to adapt to any change. This results in a strong foundation that builds resilience.
6. Stop overprotecting your child and shielding them from their own mistakes
This includes not doing your kid’s homework. Many parents often feel like they need to jump into protecting their children from any negative outcome, even if it has a negative consequence to their children’s action. STOP!
You will not have the pleasure or ability to do this forever, and your child will never learn to handle the negative aspects of life ahead of them, alone. If your child has made a mistake, then it’s only fair that they go through the consequences.
Stop shifting blame when things go wrong, It’s common to see parents blaming the surroundings when their child falls, they ask the child to hit an inanimate object to ease their pain! This, in many scenarios, results in children becoming adults who always find someone else to blame, rather than actually dealing with the problem or admitting their mistakes. Instead you can simply acknowledge their feelings and show support!