We always want to help our children in every way possible, and this is a natural quality that is built into us from the moment we become parents. Growing up, our children need a lot of help and it is wonderful when we can assist them in their endeavours. There comes a point though, when a line is crossed that leads into the territory of too much help.
Part of children transforming into responsible adults requires us to let them learn how to do things on their own. They might make some mistakes, but they need to grow and learn to become more independent. How can we as parents, stop being a crutch to our children and begin letting them do things themselves?
Remember Your Own Childhood
Think back to when you were young. Did you prefer to do things on your own, or to have someone coddling you and doing everything for you? It’s very doubtful that you preferred the coddling. Although children do not always want to do everything they are responsible for, they take pride in having jobs and doing their best. It brings confidence and self-respect when a child can look at what they have accomplished and know that they did it by themselves.
Be Patient and Let Go of Perfection
If we are going to resist constantly sweeping in and saving the day for our children, we must learn to be patient with them. When our children are young, they do not do things perfectly. We can certainly expect them to try their best, but we need to lower our standards of perfection.
This might mean allowing your baby to learn to use their own utensils instead of always doing it for them in order to avoid a mess. It might mean being patient while your toddler moves clothing from the washer to the dryer, piece by piece, at a snail’s pace. It could also mean watching your child struggle at their math homework instead of jumping in and doing it for them. Raising children takes patience and trust in their ability to learn.
Teach Them the Proper Way
Letting your child do things on his (or her) own doesn’t necessarily mean that you stand back uninvolved. It’s important to teach our children the proper way to do their chores and succeed at tasks. This will give them the confidence that they can truly accomplish whatever they are attempting. Giving them the tools to succeed is a vital step of maturity for them and will serve them well. It will also give you the confidence in them that you need in order to step back and stop interfering.
Every child needs encouragement, and every parent needs the opportunity to encourage. While your child is learning to become more independent, offer them sincere praise and compliment their efforts. This is a way for you to let them know you are always there for them, even if you are not directly involved in their task.
As our children grow, we learn to balance our hands-on help with other ways to be there for them. It is important for us not to do everything for our children, but to let them learn that they must complete certain things on their own. Finding ways to encourage them without doing all their work will benefit both us and our children in the long run, and build the relationship between us and our children.