When you have children all you want to do is bundle them up in bubble wrap and keep them safe forever. Babies do need to be protected … but when do you start preparing them for life? It actually starts sooner than you think. Children from a young age want to do it on their own! How many fights have you had with a toddler that wanted to pour their own drink, put on their own pants or help you with cutting the vegetables for dinner? And what do we normally do? We do it for them. It’s faster, it’s easier and it saves the frustration for the child. But what are we teaching them when we take over? We are teaching them they can’t do it, they don’t have the skills and that an adult will jump in and fix things for them when life gets hard.
Our world is very fast paced, we are so busy. We NEVER have enough time. When we are stressed and have little time or patience we do what feels best… but it’s not usually the most helpful solution. Parents tell me they get everything ready for their child in the morning so there is no arguing or fighting. This happens when they are younger and the pattern continues until they are old enough to do it on their own. The problem is they aren’t doing things on their own. WE do it for them. What is that teaching them? It does not teach them any skills. Eventually our children and teens just expect that you will do it all for them. At some point parents get frustrated with this untitled cycle. Depending on how old the child is undoing the cycle will be a lot of work, but it’s necessary to make positive change. Teach them how to do things, encourage effort and stay consistent and they will learn how to think and do things for themselves.
It’s time to change the cycle, and that starts with you! What do you want your child or teen to start doing? What gets in the way of getting them started? Are you jumping in to fix it or do it for them?
If you want to build independence and empower them with problem solving skills, then you have to teach them how. Give them the skills and then step back and let them try. If they aren’t getting it or make a mistake, pay attention to the effort.
Be careful not to shame them. These are unhelpful statements. This approach will not not encourage them to continue trying. :
- I told you you were too young to do this!
- Look at the big mess you made.
- You did it wrong, here let me show you how it’s done.
Instead use this opportunity for learning.
- How can we do things differently?
- What would help you get the task done?
- I’m happy you tried.
This will take some planning and lots of practice, but in time you will see it is all worth the effort. You want to build confident independent children and teens that won’t be living in your basement when they are fifty!
Learn more by watching my segment on CHCH Morning live: https://www.chch.com/hyper-parenting/