Learning to Let Go: How To Raise Independent Children

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When you first start a family, the extrent to which your children need you can be a culture shock to many. You going from having yourself and maybe your job as your primary concern to meeting the whims of a wailing newborn 24/7. Many of us struggle with a sensation of almost losing a sense of self, as your whole being starts to feel subsumed into the process of creating and raising this little human. Quickly, children start to show independent tendencies, and by toddlerhood it can feel like every minor daily decision becomes an epic battle of wills. So, how to find the right balance? We want to raise independent, well-adjusted children that are capable and resilient to the many things life can throw at them. But of course we also want to support them and help them to grow and learn in the right way. How do we find the sweet spot between those two scenarios? Here are a few starter tips…

 

Find Things They Can Help With

 

Most young children love to be given a responsibility, and especially within a family setting, this helps them to feel included and a part of the team. So focus on finding a few age-appropriate ways to involve them in the ‘adult jobs’. Could they help to feed a pet or lay the table for dinner? Could they pick some flowers for the garden to display in the house? Making them a part of the daily chore load from the earliest age builds the sense that they have some control over their environment and reinforces the idea that the whole family is responsible for pitching in around the house. Try giving them a choice of jobs to help with, and keep the praise coming when they do a good job.

 

Build In Buffer Time

 

One thing all parents succumb to is parenting in the now – finding quick solutions to make things work without considering the wider picture. In the mad rush of a typical family morning, we can end up shouting instructions, or taking over and doing things ourselves because it’s quicker. But allowing ten extra minutes so that your child can have a go at tackling things themselves, like getting dressed, or brushing their teeth – means that you aren’t so up against it and have time to fix any mistakes if needs be. In the long run, having your child take on more tasks will free more of your own morning up, but it can take practice and patience to reach that point.

 

Encourage Their Problem Solving Skills

 

Being able to fix things is a crucial part of learning independence, and a gift to your children for the future. So use every opportunity to have a conversation with them encouraging them to find solutions to the barriers they may come up against – their creativity may well inspire you! If you step in immediately to solve every little detail, they won’t have the chance to grow. Learning how to have developmentally-stimulating conversations with your children is a definite skill – there’s lots of discussion and helpful articles on this topic at https://www.mothersandmore,org

 

Push Out Perfect

 

The whole idea of perfection makes empowering your children quite difficult. We need to step away from the notion that there is one ideal way of doing things that our children must adhere to, or we’re just setting them up for failure. Instead, use their mistakes as a learning opportunity and accept that they may have a different way of going about things. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t try to gently correct them, but don’t do it in a way that makes them feel criticised. Make sure they know they’re doing a good job, and make suggestions without devaluing what they have done. They will soon discover issues themselves – for example, if they put their shoes on the wrong feet. Involve them in correcting the issue (‘What do you think we could do here?’) and they’ll soon figure it out. Who knows, you could even learn something new!

 

The Power of Compromise

 

Compromising is a beautiful thing, and never more so than when negotiating with a toddler. The secret is to offer choices within an acceptable framework (such as ‘What t-shirt do you want to wear today?’ – they will hopefully still emerge wearing a t-shirt, even if it isn’t exactly the one you planned!). Also find ways to add play into everyday tasks – you can make a story out of brushing their teeth, or a game of hunting for and putting on socks. When this becomes established, they will look forward to the daily ritual of participating.

Follow Kimberly Storms (LittleCrunchy) on Google+!

Comments

  1. You make some great points. I have certainly done things for them for expediency’s sake, especially when they were toddlers.

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