“Mom! I can’t find my homework.” “Mom, where’s my baseball jersey?” “Mom, I’m hungry.” That’s some of what I hear from my children on pretty much a daily basis. The instinctive me used to respond, “I’ll help you find it.” “It’s in your drawer.” And, “What do you feel like eating?”
The me who is trying to raise children with self-reliance responds, “Hmm, what are you going to do about that missing homework?” “Please come up with a plan to keep track of your jersey and tell me your plan.” And, “Take a look in the fridge.” In the short run it’s a lot easier and tempting to just do everything yourself. However, raising a kid who is self reliant takes a plan for the long run. The best way to raise a child with self-reliance is to do these 4 things.
Let them think it out
No matter your child’s age, let them try to figure things out on their own before you step in. If you sense they’re getting frustrated, give them a clue or a tip instead of taking over. When your child comes to you with a problem, brainstorm with him, but let him come up with the first idea. Use our 14 Day Problem Solver Challenge for moms if you tend to be a helicopter parent.
No matter your child’s age, let them try to figure things out on their own before you step in.
Teach them how
If your child asks for something to eat, instead of just preparing it for her, have her make it alongside you. “I’d love to make you some boiled eggs. Grab a pot and fill it about halfway with water and I’ll get the eggs.”
Expect progress, not perfection
Assign your children regular chores and be patient as they learn how to do them properly. Expect that they will forget their chores or the job will be done poorly. Instead of scolding, troubleshoot with them so they can do better the next time. You’ll also want to reward them along the way for improved behavior. Try to look for and affirm “approximately right behavior.” Remember that children are a work in progress.
Believe in them
If your child feels like you’re disappointed or angry when he tries and fails he’ll be less likely to aim for self-reliance. Make it safe for him to try and fail by making your support unconditional. “I know it’s not easy, but I really do believe you’ll figure out how to get all of your toys back into the closet. If you can’t, let’s work together to find a way.”
What are you doing to help your kids be self-reliant?