How are you fostering independence in your child?
As a parent, you may have a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are needed. But as your kids get older, your need to be needed should fade and in fact, your child should need you less and less. Are you willing to give that up? Are you parenting with the end goal in mind, that of sending your child off into adulthood with the skills to survive without your constant input or assistance?
If your child’s independence from you is a parenting goal, then consider focusing on these four areas:
Let Them Do For Themselves
Your desire to help your child may seem innocent at first: cleaning their bathroom, helping them pick out their clothes, doing their homework. But if it keeps up, they will grow to expect your help and will not believe that they can do the jobs themselves.
Yes, helping your kids is a part of your job–when they can’t braid their own hair or make their beds yet. When your teens are struggling to make good choices and act responsibly, then you help them by giving them boundaries.
But if you consistently do things for your kids which they are capable of doing for themselves, you are creating a dependent child.
“A dependent child is a demanding child. Children become irresponsible only when we fail to give them opportunities to take on responsibility.” – Rudolf Dreikurs and Margaret Goldman.
Let Them Fight Their Own Battles
Teaching kids to solve their own problems is a skill that can begin when they are young. As a toddler, it might be a fight over a toy, but as they grow, so will their problems. Teaching them how to solve problems is an important lifelong skill.
Teach your children problem solving steps like how to identify the problem is, how to think of solutions to the problem, how to analyze solutions and how to try those solutions. Helping your child through those steps may take longer than just giving them the answer, but it is a life skill they must learn to become independent.
Let Them Learn to Manage Money
Over and over again, I see young adults who struggle with money management. This adds to their lack of dependence because they are always coming back to Mom and Dad for either a loan, or “just some money to hold me over”.
If you don’t teach your kids how to manage money, somebody else will. And that’s not a risk you want to take! Financial guru Dave Ramsey offers some suggestions for teaching your kids good financial habits. Do your research, come up with a plan, and talk with your kids about how that plan will be implemented.
Let Your Kids Learn the Importance of Values
Teaching your child to make good choices or form healthy habits must go hand-in-hand with values. In other words, teach your child the WHY behind WHAT you are asking or telling them to do.
Why is lying wrong? Because it breaks trust and it’s hard to earn that trust back.
Why is sharing with your sibling important? Because learning how to get along with others is something they will need to learn the rest of their lives–in their jobs, in their homes, and in their communities.
The values that you talk about and that you model before your children will be the values that help them make good choices and form positive habits. And those in turn will grow their independence.
“Habitually doing things for your child that she’s capable of doing herself sends an inadvertent message that you don’t have confidence in her abilities,” Williams warns. The outcome is a child who lacks independence, self-esteem and problem-solving skills and who can’t—or won’t—do age-appropriate tasks. This is sometimes called “learned helplessness.” Learned from whom? You guessed it. (Today’s Parent)
If you’d like to be more intentional about helping your child grow their independence, I can help. Schedule a free consultation here.