We are not doing our kids any favours by pampering them into a spoon-fed dependent generation that cannot do the basics for themselves. Parents are over-involved and kids do not learn to take responsibility and become accountable for their choices. There is a steady decline in basic independence skills and it seems that children are less able to do anything for themselves. Across the board, children also seem less able to problem solve. Yes, we are constantly reinforcing and teaching our kids that when they are in trouble, or struggle with something, they can cry out and mom or dad will come and fix it. We feel sorry for them and try to compensate for a bunch of dysfunctionalities and imbalances in our own life’s.
This phenomenon is especially evident when it comes to homework and financial responsibility. I am amazed at the effort that, especially mothers, put into making sure their children have learned for a test, done an assignment, completed a project, prepared a dissertation, etc. Wow! We do our utmost to fix all their problems, resolve all their issues, and in the whole process promote convenient laziness and give them a false sense that “everything is ok”. Yes, everything is ok while mom and dad are around, but what about when mom or dad is not there?
Also remember that independence breeds the feeling of competence. When kids feel competent they gain an improved sense of self. Kids need to have opportunities to do things themselves as early as possible. Yes, in many ways it is easier to do things yourself. Yes, in many ways it is faster to do things yourself. Yes, it is heart-breaking to see them fail at something while you know you could have helped. But, that’s life and raising independent children that take responsibility are non-negotiable.
Here are two strategies that can help:
1) Teach them how to problem-solve
When your kids call for you, don’t automatically solve the problem. Instead, stop and think, “Is there a way that they could solve this without me?” If there is, take the time and teach them. Our kids have a lot more skills than we give them credit for, but they get into the habit of calling on us because it is easy.
2) Teach them language–Actively
If we want our children to become more independent, we need to teach them social language. We need to teach them how to ask another adult for help. We need to give them the words to call a friend and arrange a playdate. We need to teach them how to tell the teacher that they didn’t understand the assignment. One way that children learn that they can be independent is to learn how to resolve their own conflicts. So often, parents intervene and resolve the conflict for their children. Instead, give them the words to talk to one another–you will be amazed at how well it works.