A big worry for most parents is,“how do we make our children more independent and responsible? ” This usually happens when the parents find out the child is pampered,spoilt,or fearful ,or dependent… We’ll give you three important ideas for this.
First, don’t do stuff for them. Let them do their own work. Of course , when you see your adorable little child struggling with a school project you want to swoop in and help the child.You see your child living in a messy room and you just want to go and clean it up, because if you don’t,you’re afraid the child will never do it, and you can’t see your child living in filth.Your child is watching TV and asks for a glass of water,you give it to them.Your child drops milk on the floor and you ask the maid to clean it.
Some parents are almost expressing love,by doing things for the child. “My son ! You don’t have to sweat.You don’t have to get your hands dirty.You enjoy the luxury that I never got in life. I am going to be the most loving parent on earth”.If you are a parent, who thinks like that…This is not the best approach to express love.You can express love by accepting your child being grateful for their presence ,listening to them,empathizing with them , spending quality time with them…But if you want a responsible child,let them do their own things as much as you can. Even if it means,they lose a few marks their room is dirty,or they hate you for 5 minutes.Skills are developed through doing do less and less things for them.And as a side benefit,make your own life easier.Go chill in the sofa .
Second,don’t protect them too much. Someone hits your son at school,and you feel like rushing to school and warning that child.“if you ever lay a hand on my little boy,I will beat the crap out of you“.Your child fails a school test and you feel like shouting at the teacher,“how dare you give less marks to my child ?”. Your child is very stressed about dancing in the family wedding,and you go,oh my child is too stressed,it’s okay you don’t have to dance“.The child is too afraid to talk to the neighbor uncle for the cricket ball…“ don’t worry my child, I will go get it for you“. Its okay , it’s your first instinct to keep your child safe, but if you want an independent and responsible child , you will need to develop some tolerance for risk. You need to develop tolerance for your child crying , being scared , hurt… These negative emotions felt by the child, are the breeding ground for some of the most important lessons they can learn in life. It’s like when they are defeated, when they are in tears when they are frustrated…A door opens up in their mind…where they need answers, they need to make sense of It … They need some ideas on how to cope…And that’s when you can walk in the door with your wisdom .It’s like leave your child in the wrestling arena ,you stand on the side and keep talking to them. Don’t step in the arena to take over the fight.Let them fight , let them get hit, get bruised, but make sure they come back to you so you can talk about it.
The goal of talking is so that they can make a strategy to act better next time. So that they don’t make wrong conclusions about what they experienced. So that they don’t get traumatized by it. The goal of talking is to give them a story, so they can get back up and try again. This time with a little more information than before.Let them experience obstacles,let them be uncomfortable at times. Build a connection,good enough, that they feel comfortable talking to you about those obstacles and when they do talk, give them the best wisdom you have.
Third, don’t take all the decisions for them, let them make more and more choices, even if they are wrong sometimes.Parents often want to make all the decisions, why ?because they think child might make a bad one,“it will cost us money, it will cost us time. Why go through all this trouble when we already know the better decision“. If you want them to be responsible, you need to give them choices, and more and more authority,on taking the decisions.
Parents are constantly hijacking the decision-making process of the child. “Don’t spend money on this and that, don’t hang out with him or her, don’t wear bright clothes, people will laugh, don’t buy this toy, you won’t play with this, you will get bored, don’t watch this TV show , it’s very idiotic, don’t dance on this song, people won’t like it,don’t buy a ballpen you’ll regret it”… You’re trying to keep your child from making bad choices, from regretting things, from wasting time and money. You’re saying to the child “ I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, I have learned amazing lessons, now you do what I say, so that don’t have to repeat the same mistakes OK ?” well, OK and not OK.
See, if your child learns from your mistakes, amazing.If they are listening to you, keep going. But it’s guaranteed that there will be moments, where the child will go, “nope ! I’m gonna do it all by myself. I don’t care if this is going to be the worst decision… I want to take it. It’s my life.” In those moments, it’s better to let them figure it out on their own, instead of forcing them to shut up and obey you. The question that you need to ask is… If I let my child make this choice, is there any catastrophic short-term or long-term consequence ? When we say catastrophic, it means something that could damage health , cause severe financial loss hurt others…If there’s nothing catastrophic,let them have their way,let them experience more and more,and when they do make a mistake, don’t go and say “i told you so, you never listen to me”, that’s not helpful.
Ever again, when they make a mistake, that’s your time to invite them for a discussion on it. Most probably, they’ve already learned a lesson, but if they haven’t… You can offer the lesson in that discussion, just an ‘offer’ ! not ‘push it down their throat’ see when your child makes a choice, goes through first-hand experience, and comes back to make sense of the whole experience with you, that’s what makes your child stronger.
Next time, they can hopefully handle something slightly, bigger and when this process is repeated over the years , you can hope to get a child, who when steps outside the house can feel “okay,I can handle this, at least I won’t make disastrous mistakes”. Yes that’s the threshold.
If your child can avoid some DISASTROUS MISTAKES in their adulthood, because of some of their early experiences and your teachings… your parenting has been successful. You must emphasize that this approach that we’re talking about. It takes years of experiences and learnings from the experiences, bit-by-bit will compound over the years your home is like a training ground. You can create simulations of the outside world under your roof, so that child can practice and avoid crash landings in the real world. If you want an independent and responsible child, don’t take away the opportunities where they can this independence and responsibility. Let them practice under supervision.