We love it when our child comes running to us for his smallest needs. We love to play God to our children. But then remember, once grown up, kids don’t become independent overnight. Hand holding is fine, but it shouldn’t happen that we are still carrying our child when he has turned into an adult. They have to be taught to be independent right from childhood.
In the name of attachment parenting, we are cocooning our kids. Have we thought about the ramifications? I am sure, no. With this constant molly-coddling, we are robbing our kids of their independence, their assertiveness and their individuality.
I love my child but I don’t confuse love with dependence. I can’t protect her all her life and then throw her in the wild to fend for herself when she grows up. The world will gobble her up. Like most people, she has to go through the rut of this world, face the hardships and struggles on her own. I can’t (however much I want to be) always be there with my child.
As a parent it’s my responsibility to raise my child well and raising my child to be an independent individual features high on my priority list. She has to be independent right now though it hurts her or me. Better now than later.
Here are a few tips on how to raise independent children:
According to me, potty training is the first step in making your child independent. When the child understands his needs and the means to fulfil them, that’s when he is independent. I taught my little child to sit on her own on the potty, on the big potty. A bad back problem also prompted me into speeding up the process. I put a small stool before the potty. She steps on the stool and sits herself on the big potty. I just need to clean her up later. It started slowly. I first held her hand while she stepped on the stool and sat. But then quite early, she realized that it was more fun to do it on her own.
Let them do small errands:
If my mother or mother-in-law ever comes across this article of mine they will surely have a fit. I am sure it will not go down very well with them that I am making their little granddaughter work. According to her age, understanding and capability I give her small chores to do, like:
- picking out her own clothes from the cupboard,
- putting her dish in the kitchen sink after finishing her meal,
- cleaning the table after a meal,
- pick her toys and put them back on the shelves, etc.
She enjoys these simple chores. Although I need to re-do most of the things, I know the day is not far when she would have mastered them.
Avoid those ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’:
A few days back my little daughter was playing in the garden when she fell down. I knew she had fallen down but didn’t rush to pick her up. And the next instant, she got up on her own and started playing all over again. The fall and the small bruise very much forgotten. And before you say it, no, I am not her step-mother. But I also don’t ooh and aah every time she falls or hurts herself.
She needs to understand that life is tough and one needs to be tougher to sustain. Crying over small things doesn’t help much.
Let them eat on their own:
Since the time my daughter learnt to handle the spoon, I let her eat curds and dal by herself. Of course, she spills some, but she is happier. Me too. Also, one thing I don’t do is run after her carrying her food. If she doesn’t eat her food in 15-20 minutes, she knows that the food will disappear. If you run after your kids with their food, they will run faster and make it a game. Let them respect food and your time.
I stay in a nuclear family. As there is nobody else present, I need to take my daughter whenever I go out. It’s not convenient at all times. Also, it also makes her clingy. So I have made it a point to leave her with one of my neighbours (if it’s convenient for her) or my maid. And believe me, my daughter has stopped fussing. So when I need to visit the market or go to the gym, I simply tell her ‘goodbye’ and leave. No tears, no melodramas.
Expose them to harsh climates:
“Stay at home and watch TV. It’s too hot or cold outside.” How many of us do that?
Have we forgotten our childhood when we hardly stayed indoors in spite of pouring rain or scorching summer heat? Then why these double standards for our kids. Are they a special generation? Take adequate precautions and let your kids enjoy the wilderness of the nature.
It may sound harsh to some mothers but remember it’s for your kid’s sake so that he or she adapts to the big harsh world faster and better.
Kids enjoy freedom. Well, who doesn’t? It is just that we need to give them some breathing space and let them spread their wings. This is what I call practical parenting.
What steps do you take to ensure that your kids are independent? Feel free to share here.