Happy Independence Day!
We celebrate this day in remembrance of our country breaking free from the control of Britain. But as parents, we struggle with the whole independence thing in our kids because our desire to be involved in their lives often keeps us from giving them the space to become autonomous.
How can you give your children the gift of independence? Here’s several ways.
Give Them Responsibility
Make sure your child has clearly defined jobs and understands the consequences for not doing them. Wash his own uniform, keep track of her own equipment, get to practice on time.
Give Them an Understanding of Failure
No one likes to admit when they are wrong, but your children need to understand that owning up to their mistakes allows them to learn and grow. Sports is a mistake-ridden environment, but that’s okay because fFailure is one of life’s biggest teachers and when you rush in to protect your child from it, you are taking away another chance for your child to develop character and strength.
Give Them a Reason for Conviction
Help your children see that it’s okay to peacefully disagree with someone. Encourage them to stand up for what’s right on their team, instead of cowering to the opinions of peers. That’s a tough one, I know; peer pressure is strong for kids. But you can teach them values that are worth fighting for.
Give Them Your Trust in Their Opinion
Let your child express opinions and make decisions without immediately jumping on them if you disagree. At first the choices will be inconsequential, like what outfit to wear or what toy to play with. But as they grow, so will the decisions: what college should he attend, who should she date, or what sports should he play? Listening without judgment doesn’t mean you never give guidance or express your concerns, it just means that you don’t override their opinions.
Give Them Free Time
Don’t be so quick to fill every minute of your child’s schedule with sports and other activities. Boredom can provide amazing opportunities for a child to reach within himself and find solutions. If you are always stepping in with boredom-buster ideas, you will rob your child of many growing opportunities.
Give Them Places to Step Out of Their Comfort Zones
Encourage your kids to seek and explore. When your children are older and more secure, nudge them out of their comfort zones; this will allow them to test their own capabilities and grow in independence.
Independence Takes Practice
“Every child needs to practice being independent,”says Michael Thompson, author of Homesick and Happy. “And every parent needs to practice letting a child be independent. Independence is like high jumping: You have to run and jump and sometimes fail, and then put the bar back up and run and jump again. As a parent, you’ll wince when your kids hit that bar, but you can’t jump for them. Ultimately, they’ll have a lot of sweet moments without you there to see them. But if you believe that your job is to raise your children so they will be ready to leave you, you need to be able to let them go and watch from a distance.”
Oh, and one more thing you can give your athlete is YOUR good Habits!