Independent Children: What to Do and What Not to Do

Today, we’re bombarded with parenting skills advice that is anything but supportive of raising our children to become independent adults. We’re told they “grow up too fast,” and we should “savor every moment while they’re little” and that makes us want to coddle our children as your babies forever, but our common sense knows that will only do them a disservice. We’re also scared into apocalyptic thinking whenever we read another news story about an “attempted abduction” in the mall or parking lot. We’re shamed if we leave our 8-year-old in the car to read while we pick up a few groceries, we’re sacrificing date nights with our partners rather than leave our children with a non-family member and we’re comparing our realities with Facebook’s perfect families. As American columnist Ann Landers explains, “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” So why are our children becoming less resilient and confident and what can we do about it?

Let us take a look at some aspects of what to do and what not to do to help you reframe how you raise independent children.

Do encourage effort

It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, always give praise to the effort they put into anything they do. By supporting your children when they put genuine effort into a task, you are using your parenting skills to build their confidence and a passion for keeping trying. Your kids will be more motivated later on in life if they are groomed early on to realize that it is not just about their intelligence and natural talents, but it is in their pursuit of excellence that they will become successful.

Don’t encourage pure talent when

When your kids grow up with the parenting style that assumes that excellence is something you’re born with, they are more inclined to avoid obstacles and conflict in their adult years. They will have an unhealthy perspective on challenges and success, often giving up too soon to fully realize their potential. Your child will also grow up with the expectations to uphold a particular image for their talents. This can ultimately cause your kids to have anxieties and depression about the assumed status of perfection.

Do have healthy boundaries with your children

Healthy boundaries with your children mean that you have clear expectations of what is acceptable in their behaviors, actions, and communication. Use your parenting skills to define these boundaries based on what is essential and what you value as a family. HINT: boundary #1 is the marital bed. Some families have the philosophy of the “family bed.” I’m not talking to them. If you have a child in your bed and one of the adults doesn’t want that, I’m talking to you.

Don’t keep them from making mistakes

Children learn through failure. Just like riding your bike for the very first time, they will fall and make mistakes over and over again until they learn to become great at what they do. Give your kids a lot of opportunities to fail. This type of parenting style is probably the hardest of all because it is not easy to see your kids fail unless you know they will learn from it. If we give our kids a chance, you will be surprised how well they fare in learning from their mistakes, it will help them navigate through life’s challenges with confidence.

Do instill your values in your kids

Whatever your family values are, know that they will carry your children on as they grow up. They will keep these values and pass them onto their own children one day, so it is so important to be conscious of our parenting styles to teach them early on of what your family stands for and what you believe in. Values such as honesty, generosity, determination, and consideration are essential values to impart to your kids to ensure that they become valuable contributors to our society one day. Creating a family mission statement is vital to making this happen.

Don’t just tell your kids what to do, show them

Your children learn way more by your actions than what you tell them. When you focus on your parenting skills to live by your standards and values, your kids will see your example through your day-to-day interactions with others. Show your kids what failure and making mistakes look like, show them what being generous looks like, and show your children what determination and persistence can do for you.

Do give age-appropriate responsibilities early on

Giving your children duties at an early age instills so much confidence and independence in their little minds. It is great practice for your parenting skills to get your kids to start small with chores of cleaning up after themselves. They will learn to embrace the integral role they have in the family unit and can start as young as three-years-old. Yes, THREE!

Don’t do for them what they can do themselves

This is a hard one, especially when our kids do a messy job of cleaning up or they take too long to clean up. You may want to just jump in and complete the task for them, but if you do that, they will make it a habit of doing a messy job every time. They will grow up with the expectation that mom and dad will finish the job anyhow, so their efforts are meaningless. This doesn’t do any good for your child or your growing parenting skills. If your child doesn’t do a job at the level, they are capable of doing it, have them do it better. They will learn that doing it right the first time is best.

Want to hear more about how to raise independent children including how to create a family mission statement? Click HERE to fill out Discovery Form and book a call with Susan!