The top 5 ways to encourage independence in our children:
1. Don’t do anything for your child that they are capable of doing themselves. This undermines confidence and creates unhealthy dependency.
2. Allow your child to make mistakes. Lots of them! The more you correct them or save them from failure, the less motivation they have to solve their own problems and the less they try to take safe risks and be creative.
3. Don’t criticize your child. EVER. When you question your child’s choices, and judge their actions, their self-esteem is lowered. Instead, encourage them to be curious by asking thinking questions about their choices.
4. Let them feel the consequences of their decisions. Saving them from the negative emotions that occur when a bad choice is made just helps them make more bad choices.
5. Empathize when a consequence of a bad choice is painful. Everyone needs empathy and love when they make a mistake. Let them know it’s ok to fail and that your love for them remains the same no matter what their actions may be.
As parents, we need to set reasonable limits, yet be supportive and empathetic to our children when they experience a consequence of a bad decision. We are there as cheerleaders and consultants, not as drill sergeants or helicopter parents. When we act in this way, we increase internal motivation (grit) and increase our kids self-esteem.
In the comments below, post one instance that you are struggling to not yell at or command your child to act a certain way. How can you change the way you approach the situation to help motivate your child to want to accomplish that task?