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January 25, 2011

Teaching Your Children to Fly

Image: Flickr/Brittany Randolph

Image: Flickr/Brittany Randolph

“The most beautiful sight in the world is a child going confidently down the road of life after you have shown him the way” – Confucius

Confucius had it right – isn’t that what our job as a mom is, getting our kids ready to leave the nest?

I don’t know about you, but I certainly am not interested in accompanying my child at age 19 to his first job, carrying his briefcase for him or dropping off his lunch that he forgot at home. Okay, that is an exaggeration (I hope….but I bet there are some moms who fall into that trap) but at what point do you start truly putting forth that effort to develop independence and self-reliance in your kids? It can start a lot sooner than you think.

Allowing your child to do more for himself is surely one way to let them grow up. Often times we make the mistake of continuing to “do” for your children what they in fact can do for themselves because we want to be nice, or feel it is the right thing to do. Not necessarily true. The best thing you can do for your child is give them realistic expectations to reach for and then encourage them along the way.

Learning to let go of rescuing your child every time they encounter difficulty will allow them to develop skills so that they can thrive without you. That is the ultimate goal we have as parents, we often say we are raising our children…..honestly we are “raising adults”. Everyday you have opportunities where you can allow growth for your child, are you allowing it to happen. You cannot expect your children to become self-reliant and resourceful unless you are nurturing those traits in them and allowing growth.

Here are a few ideas to help your child become self-reliant.

1) Examine what your child can do alone and then take a step back!

I think you would be surprised how many tasks your child can actually accomplish on his own if you just get out of the way! Often times we jump in trying to get it done faster, or better or because we don’t give them the chance to try it. We assume it is beyond them. Maybe it’s time to examine what your child can do on his own, instead of relying on you?

Can your 3 year old make his bed? I bet he can, it may not look like you would want, but ultimately you are allowing him to grow and take pride in a job.

How about making his own lunch, doing laundry or cleaning up after himself in the kitchen?

Everything will depend on your child’s age, maturity and current abilities, but when I work with mom’s who allow this opportunity to become reality in their homes they are AMAZED by what their child can accomplish!

Remember the goal is not to overwhelm your child by one day giving him 10 new tasks, but gradually increasing his role in his own care.

2) Allow your child to problem solve.

Do you jump in when your child finds himself in a pickle?

The next time try stepping back and walking through the process of problem solving with him. If he has forgotten his math book at school and needs it for homework, instead of running him back to school, ask him how else he can solve his problem.

Help him come up with ideas if he comes up blank. Calling another classmate to get the problems could be a possibility or doing his assignment the next day in study period. Allow him to brainstorm to come up with other ideas instead of you just running him back. You will want your child to learn to deal with situations they get themselves into without having to always call mom.

3) Help build organization skills in your child

Do you find yourself always repeating your daily schedule to your child?

Do chores often get forgotten because there is no way for him to realistically remember those tasks?

Do they often misplace items?

Instead of jumping in to help locate these things, ask him what he can do to solve the problem?

If he forgets his chores, ask him what he can come up with in order to remember. If he is constantly asking about the daily schedule, ask him how he could keep track of activities on his own.

Do you have a battle in the morning routine trying to get your child through those daily self-care tasks?

Help your child make a list with those duties that he can refer to. If they are not old enough to read, then draw pictures that they can identify. You will find your child is a lot more capable to remember when they are given some tools or the opportunity to find out what works best for them.

If you take the time to deliberately “step-back” in some areas, you will see your child blossom to become self-directed, responsible and able to problem solve even when you are not around.

How can you allow that to happen today?

I would love to hear your thoughts or ideas on how you will do this in your home. You won’t be sorry!

Susan also writes at The Confident Mom where she loves inspiring moms to make small changes managing their home and family life giving them more time, order and less stress! She is passionate about helping moms become the Calm, Cool and Confident Moms their kids need. She enthusiastically wears the hat of mom, step-mom and foster mom to 4 awesome kids – ages 18, 14, 10 and 14 months; is married to her very own prince charming, loves coffee, cloudy days, and does think the “bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle.” Empowering Moms, Strengthening Families and Embracing God’s Design is her mission and you can find her at her other day job, The Confident Mom, stop by and get a copy of her FREE ebook, “Getting Kids to Cooperate and Become Team Players.”

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