It’s a sad fact that many parents today are sabotaging their child’s future without even knowing what they are doing or understanding the implications of some of their parenting habits.
There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of parents want to raise independent adults; I don’t know of any parents personally who want their kids to suffer from a failure to launch or to always be running back to Mom or Dad to get help. Parents who want their kids to remain dependent are probably out there, but they are ultra-extreme controllers with their own neediness issues.
So if we all agree that we want our kids to learn how to adult well, where and when do you start this process?
Preparing children for adulthood doesn’t just happen when they hit high school. It has to start way before them because becoming an adult is not just an age one turns, it is a growth process, and the process starts very early in life.
As your kids grow up, here are some parenting habits that will help your kids learn to “adult” well.
Let Your Child Learn to Speak for His/Herself
Whether it’s ordering their food at a restaurant or confronting a coach, let your child do the talking. At first, they may need a little coaching, but they will get the hang of it if you stop yourself from stepping and taking over the conversation.
Let Your Child Do Their Own Chores and Homework
Surprisingly enough, this is not a no-brainer for a lot of parents. Rather than see their kids struggle or a job left undone, they will step in and do the chore or “help” their kids by doing homework for them. Yes, parents actually do their kids’ homework for them.
If this is you, stop. You are not doing your kids any favors.
Encourage Them to Work and Earn Money
When they are little, this may look like a lemonade stand. That may progress to yard mowing, which ultimately progresses to a job when they reach hiring age. Understanding the value of working and earning will help them appreciate the value of hard work and the dollar.
Handing everything to your kids is an easy, but dangerous habit which leads to entitled grown-ups.
Resist the Temptation to Micromanage
Give your child a job or instructions and then let them do it without you controlling how they do it. Nobody likes to work for a micromanaging boss. Give your kids room to carry out the task in their own way and exercise creativity.
If there are specific things they need to avoid or implement in their task, let them know ahead of time, then release them. After the task is done, if it falls short of completion or implementation, have a conversation and get their take on how they did. Use that time to help them see how they could improve the next time.
Stay Out of Your Child’s Friendship Battles
When your child has conflicts with friends or teammates, stop yourself from stepping in to solve the issue for them. You can coach them through it, and if a conversation is needed with another parent, you and your child can go together and your child can do the talking. Much of the friendship battles my kids had were just childish squabbles and as much as I wanted to butt in and talk to their friend or their friends’ parents, I knew that they would not appreciate it.
Let Them Learn to Accept Responsibility For Mistakes
I know many adults who have a really hard time admitting that something was their fault, always looking for someone else to blame. It may be cute when a child does that at 3 or 4, but that kind of adult behavior is truly sad. I know people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who are still blaming everyone else for their problems.
If your kids don’t learn this as they grow up, they too will be blamers as adults. Unfortunately, blamers miss out on mental, emotional and spiritual growth because they are not willing to admit mistakes and learn from them.
Allow Your Child to Take Risks
Let them try a new sport, learn a new skill, embark on a new adventure without you–aside from dangerous endeavors, of course.
We tried to do that with our kids and the result is that we have raised risk-takers: a son who moved across the country from his family in his mid-20s; a 26-year-old daughter who this year challenged herself to begin competitive weightlifting, something she’d never done before; and another daughter who took on new leadership responsibilities at her job.
With risk comes growth and it’s been fun to watch where each risk has taken them.
Teach Them to Look for Positive, Not Negative
Unfortunately, I disguised my negativity as “being realistic” when my kids were growing up and I often got called out for being negative. I still struggle with this because I am a very practical person. The challenge for me has been to look for the positive and practice gratitude.
Today, I sometimes see one of my kids struggle with the same issue and I know that I probably contributed to their negative tendencies.
Teaching them to look for the positive and to be grateful has got to be a mindset shift that starts with YOU.
Encourage the Practice of Not Procrastinating
Procrastinators usually end up doing a less quality job, putting more stress on themselves and driving everyone else crazy. Teach your kids to value the habit of timeliness and self-discipline when it comes to getting things done. Their future spouses and bosses will greatly appreciate it.
Teach the Value of Keeping Their Word
Don’t make promises to your kids you can’t keep and don’t break the ones you make. If you live like that, your kids will grow up feeling like they cannot count on you. And besides that, your word loses power for them–that includes threats and promises alike.
Tell your children to understand the importance of keeping promises as you live out that virtue.
If you want to raise your kids to become champions–adults who you enjoy being around–the process begins from the moment you first become a parent. It is an 18-year journey that will reap rewards if you do your part to be intentional about parenting.
If you’d like some help getting on track with teaching your kids to “adult,” I’m a certified family life coach. Schedule a free intro call here.