Every parent worries that they’re not a good enough parent and that their child is going to end up growing up a less-than-perfect person. It’s a common fear and there’s one thing that you need to understand: every single child is different and there’s no such thing as perfect. But one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your child is to raise them to be independent. Independent children will grow into leaders and confident, resourceful people. So, here are some tips to get you started:
Encourage exploration and curiosity
The first step to being independent is not being scared to go out of your comfort zone and find new solutions. This is a skill nourished from the earliest age, from when they first start crawling and discovering the world around them. Allow them to look, to touch, to smell and taste the world. Not all experiences will be pleasant, but that’s how we learn. Of course, you don’t want them to get hurt, but you need to let them be free in the world. Let’s put it this way: if your child needs a tactical board full of switches and zippers to satisfy their curiosity – they’re not getting enough of the world. You might find disgusting some of the things they do, like taking an interest in bugs (both dead and alive) and being fascinated by mould on food. Make sure you’re teaching them how to stay safe and encourage them to look at things from different angles.
Put them in an encouraging environment
Kids need stability and routine, which means that if you’re supporting them to be independent but they spend the weekends at their grandma’s who doesn’t let them use a proper glass, they are getting mixed signals and they’re unsure of what they can and cannot do. Make sure that everyone who is going to be spending time responsible for the kids is on the same page about the parenting style and their abilities at each development stage. If they are spending some time at day care, make sure it’s the best early learning centre in Sydney where you can talk to all the staff and make sure they are employing the same policies as you are with your child.
Don’t punish them for trying
So your four–year-old really wants to surprise you with breakfast in bed, but because they’re four, when you wake up, you’re greeted by not only a heap of unspread butter on your toast and a glass of milk with a substance you don’t recognize mixed in, but the kitchen is a complete disaster too. Your first instinct might be to scold your kid, but the message that would be sending is that they’re not allowed to do anything new without your permission. But there are great lessons for you from this as well: you’ve learned that your child is old enough to be taught how to prepare a simple breakfast and that they need to learn to clean up after themselves. Thank them for their effort and spend the morning tidying up together. Then, make some palatable breakfast together and teach them how to spread butter on bread.
Giving freedom to your child and encouraging them to be independent is something that a lot of parents struggle with, and the more you do it, the more work there is to do. But in a few short years, not only will you be rewarded by a child who can get ready for school on their own and do their schoolwork without help, but you will be granting them the best running start they could have in life. It’s worth it.