Increasingly, children are growing up with less independence when compared with previous generations. As parents, we are becoming overly protective of our children thinking we are showing love and care. We want them to play outdoors less, take them to school every day and do for them even small routine chores which kids a few generations ago would easily be able to handle on their own.
This has lead to a generation of children with low self-confidence, responsibility and communication skills.
The best gift that a parent can give to a child is an upbringing that prepares them for success in school and adult life. One which prepares the child to survive and make the right decisions in their parents’ absence. You can only nurture this sort of independence with the right parenting, here are a few tips to get you started:
Give them Independence
If you want your children to grow up to be independent, then give them independence from a young age. For instance, once they learn the route to school, let them go on their own. Allow them to go out and make friends. Keep an eye on them but refrain from interfering with their play. They might get injured, but that will only harden them. They will become creative and learn to make decisions on their own. More importantly, it will allow them to interact with other kids and develop social skills.
Build their Self-Confidence
As a parent, you need to show that you have confidence in their ability. All kids need praise and encouragement as this assures them of their capabilities and strengthens their self-esteem. You should openly acknowledge their achievements so they know they are doing the right thing. This will make them feel good about themselves and prevent self esteem issues as they grow. Additionally, it will let them know that they are doing the right thing and encourage them to do more.
Reward Good Behavior and Punish Bad
Children will often become rebellious and develop unsociable behaviour especially towards their siblings and other children. Correct them in a gentle but firm way. You can use consequences such as taking toys away from them and take time to explain why what they did is not acceptable once they’ve calmed down.
In social settings, watch them and correct them verbally. “Allan share your cookies with Rachel” and praise them when they follow your instructions. Over time, this will prevent issues with behavior and help with their social skills.
Seize Learning Opportunities by Making them Work
My father was a cleaner and would make me help him clean windows for my allowance from the age of 5 (I absolutely hated it at the time) and this passed his hard work ethic onto me from a young. 20 years later, I started Simpo Cleaning which today is one of Sydney’s leading window cleaning companies with over 20 staff.
By teaching your kids to do things early, you’ll be setting them up for life. Start with little things like getting them to tidy up their room or washing the car. They may hate it now but it will allow them to learn that life isn’t just a bed of roses and any frustrations they s..uffer now will only benefit them when they get older.
Let them Decide
Independence is accompanied by making tons of decisions every day. Teach your children the art of decision-making by offering them opportunities to make small decisions. Ask them what color they want for their new shirt or what snack to buy them. Give them two or three options from which to choose. Something like, “Brian pick one between these blue and red pants,” will suffice.
Steven Ung is a father, marketing consultant and business owner in Sydney, Australia.