Would your children know to pick their clothes up off the floor if you were not there to tell them? Would they remember to eat dinner, bathe, or finish their homework? Sometimes it feels like our homes – and our children’s lives – would fall apart if we were not there to tell them what to do every step of the way.
However, if you are brave enough to take a step back, you may discover that your children are more self-reliant than you think. Many of us are forced to take this step when we send our children off to camp and wonder if they will end up wearing the same t-shirt for two weeks or how many showers that will take during that time.
Let your child take the leap. Every child passes through typical developmental stages, and parents are often reluctant to let them go. We want to protect and cushion our children from the disappointment that may lie in their paths. It is essential to allow our children to test the waters and to experience life unfolding in a way they may not have imagined. Let them see that they are capable of getting through the difficult times and that they can stand back up and proceed forward in life.
Cut back on the “do this” messages. It may be difficult to relinquish control. You like a tidy house. You want their laundry put away and their beds made every morning. Close the door to their room and let them experiment with being in charge of their own space.
Negotiation is a good skill to possess. We call it “talking back” or “arguing” and tell our children it is not appropriate. Teaching our children to properly negotiate will instill in them a skill that will benefit them well into their futures. Those conversations may remain difficult for us but think about what they will do for our children!
Let your children have problems. We want to be there for our children and to help them, but it is detrimental to be the problem solver in your child’s life. Be there as a guide and a sounding board, but let them face their problems. A child needs to learn that he or she is capable of getting through a difficult situation without mom’s instructions.
Communication is at the core of everything. Model the proper way to have an argument for your children. Teach your children to express their feelings. Hold family conversations and meetings. Let your children know they can ask for help if they need it.
Children who grow up developing a strong sense of self are better equipped to stand up to peer pressure, face disappointment, and rise up from failures. Independent children are children who have a foundation of self-reliance, strong communication skills, and a strong sense of responsibility.
The ultimate goal of our mothering is to send our children off into the world and into their lives fully capable of handling whatever comes their way. Teach your children to be independent at an early age and begin to give them opportunities to explore their own resiliency.