Every parent wants to help their child or teen build independence, but that can be easier said than done. With so many unknowns in the world today, some parents struggle to let their children grow their confidence and do things on their own. That’s why balance is key!
Independence is Natural
From the time we are born, many of us start seeking independence. It’s part of why babies love to hold a bottle themselves, or why toddlers might insist on doing something themselves instead of allowing a parent to help. The quest to build independence does not stop when your children learn to walk or drive. Instead, it often continues when they are out of the house and even past that.
Striking a Balance to Build Independence Is Key
While most parents can acknowledge the need for independence, actually cultivating it without hovering can be difficult. As a parent, you feel the need to protect your child from all potential risks, but that can lead to more harm in the end. Encourage healthy risk in your child or teen’s life. Healthy risks are different from hazards, in that there is not a wholly unpredictable element. A hazard would be something like playing near traffic. A healthy risk is something like riding a bike or climbing trees, providing that your child is supervised and understands the potential risk. This can help to build independence because you have worked to educate your child on the best way to stay safe, and you leave the task itself to them.
Allow Trial and Error
When you protect your children too much, you don’t allow for them to engage in the trial and error necessary to build independence. As your child ages, make sure that you decrease the amount of hovering you do and allow them to make mistakes. Mistakes are learning opportunities that can reinforce the right way to do things and help your child grow. If they never make mistakes as a child or teen, or never have to cope with the consequences of them, they will be unequipped for adulthood, when there will not be someone there to swoop in and fix things.
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