Are you one of those moms who chases her toddler around the playground, knees bent while running, arms open trying to catch him before every fall?
If you are wanting to raise an independent, well-adjusted child that is.
We’re living in a hypersensitive society. We respond and we react fast and furiously. We hover over and we micromanage everything from our communications to our bank accounts, but when it comes to raising our kids, we may need to loosen up. At least a little.
• Let your child do what he can for himself. Don’t put his shoes on if he knows how, even if it takes a little longer to get out of the door. Don’t get him dressed if he can do it himself. Don’t spoon feed him if he’s capable of using a fork. Allow extra time if you have to, but let him do what he can for himself.
• Create a safe environment for him to explore. Instead of hovering over and around your child in the play area at home, create a safe environment that encourages exploration. Strap the furniture to the wall so it doesn’t tip over, tie up the window cord blinds, put his toys within reach, move furniture away from windows and remove any hazards. Make the area safe for him to explore independently.
• Don’t hover. Supervise. Monitor. Observe. But don’t hover. Be there to offer help, but don’t initiate help. Be there to help pick him up when he falls, but don’t strive to prevent it. Take him to age-appropriate playgrounds so when he does fall, he’ll skin a knee, not break a bone. Protect but don't over protect.
• Let him fail. Children sometimes, well most times, need to try new tasks a few times before they master them. Don’t be afraid of letting your child fail. It is important children experience their first failures in the midst of your loving support. Failing builds persistence and the intrinsic rewards that come from working hard and achieving a goal are better than any store bought prize.
• Encourage safe risks. Let your child go down the slide by himself or jump off the last step of the climbing structure. Let him try to zip his coat, even if you know he probably doesn’t have the fine motor skills to do so yet. Encourage him to try new, age-appropriate things and be his biggest cheerleader as he does.
• Praise steps towards independence. Kids grow up fast, and letting go can be hard. It can be tempting to try to keep your child a baby for as long as you can. Embrace each stage of development for its uniqueness. Praise your child as he grows and develops into the unique and capable child he’s becoming.
Children grow up and will become independent, with or without your help. Guide your child on his journey by offering the support and help he needs without holding him back from achieving his full potential.