As parents and caregivers one of our goals is to guide and teach our children to be progressively independent as they grow. Our role to achieve this goal is to ease their fear, to show them what they can do, giving them a sense of security by being there alongside them, no matter what their endeavors are.
We should be a role model for our children:
Independence: Being independent ourselves shows our children the best example to learn from. Making sure we have a healthy balance in our own relationships and that we maintain our own independence and individuality. Our children will learn to withstand being separate when they see that we are all right being separate. Co-dependent, entrapped relationships of our own will hurt our children as they sense and learn signals of helplessness and become afraid to be independent. Showing our children it is OK to be separate, that it is OK to be alone some times, that it is OK to have our own opinion which may differ from others’ , and that it is OK and good to need some personal time.
Conflict: Taking conflict in a healthy manner by listening, understanding and respecting others’ opinions and concerns. We must not blame others when conflict arises, blame just destroys. Instead being constructive and showing and explaining to our children that we can have different points of view and that we can also reach a compromise to get a good resolution to conflict by taking each other’s concerns into account.
Mistakes: Recognizing our own mistakes together with an explanation is very helpful too. It shows our children we are human and as such, liable to make mistakes. It is key to show our children our accomplishments in every-day life, even when they are small, like finding the missing lid: “I couldn’t find it, but I did not give up and I finally found it!” This will encourage them to try and accomplish things by themselves, and succeed most of the time. When our child is one that gives up easily, we need to show them perseverance by encouraging them to keep on trying, supporting them each time until they get it right.
Failure: If we are unsuccessful at a particular task, highlight it to them and show them how we cope with the situation. By doing this, we are teaching them resilience, we are teaching that failure is part of success and we don’t get everything right every time. That we survive failure to try again in a different way, or just do something else and be OK with that.
Success: Reminding our children that when they feel they can’t do it alone, we are there and will help them until they do it independently. Our help can imply physical involvement, verbal involvement, or mere presence. Teaching them they are able to do it by themselves.
Confidence: Asking our children for their opinion and advice on every-day tasks and following it will show them that we value their opinion and suggestions. Involving them actively in the tasks at hand on a regular basis will make them feel as a valuable asset to us. Praising them for the good advice while explaining how their advice influenced the outcome: “Your idea of mixing flour and salt first was really good for the recipe” Showing our children we trust them. As they grow up, we ought to gradually extend unstructured boundaries. This trust will help them mature in a healthy way, and they will view their independence as a privilege, not as something to fear.