Reap the Benefits of Raising an Independent Child

Sometimes your child does better without you, even if it’s painful to hear.

Is there a way for parents to assist their child being more confident in their own abilities? The parents, no matter how much they care for their child, may not be able to help them overcome this obstacle. It’s possible that the child’s friends or an uncle will inspire him. This is a conundrum: When it comes to getting a kid to pick up his clothing, a 19-year-old camp counselor—a stranger—is typically better than the child’s 39-year-old dad.

In the end, we can’t do everything for our children, no matter how much we wish we could. When it comes to their own development, children often have to lead the way and away from us in order to do so.

We have no say in how happy our children are.

As a species, we are hard-wired to feel empathy for our children. When they’re upset or weeping, it’s our obligation to keep them safe and comfort them. Despite our greatest efforts, we can’t protect our children from the pain of the world. In childhood, you can’t tell exactly what you’re thinking or feeling because you interpret your parents’ reactions to what you’re seeing and hearing. Children learn more about themselves when they are not sheltered by their parents, because they are subjected to a broader range of emotions and circumstances.

High self-esteem is something we can’t give our children.

If you tell children they’re wonderful all the time, they become distrustful of adults because they notice that they’re not as good at some things as other children. A person’s sense of accomplishment and self-worth are derived from their ability to take on and complete difficult activities on their own. Even if he has experienced defeat, he may derive the greatest sense of accomplishment from overcoming his disappointment and returning to victory.

We can’t force our children to establish friends or micromanage their connections with other people.

Certain youngsters have a strong attraction to one another from the time they are infants. While playdates can be scheduled, kids learn how to be friends via play. The best friendships, in my opinion, are those that a child makes on her own with someone she met at school or in an after-school program. When a child tells their mother, “Mom, I’ve met a new buddy,” it is an indication of their growing independence. Even if you’re able to provide a safe and welcoming environment for your child’s pals to hang out and a place to get pizza, you can’t regulate her relationships.

We are unable to effectively manage or coach our children.

Taking on the role of the coach may seem obvious when you and your child have a common interest, such as in sports, music, or arithmetic. It’s one thing to run a peewee soccer club, but few parents are capable of guiding their child’s career to the highest level without compromising their personal relationships. When parents take on the position of coach, they tip the scales in a way that jeopardizes their children’s emotional well-being. Because of his father’s love of sports, one of my high school classmates decided to quit the varsity basketball team at the end of his senior year in order to retaliate. That’s all he has ever cared about in my life,” remarked the young youngster. Parents wisely delegate the responsibility of coaching their children to someone else.

There is no way we can compete with our children’s digital environment.

In the middle of this technological revolution, family life has been profoundly altered. Many parents come to me for advice on how to limit their children’s electronic device use. Although we spend the same amount of time in front of screens, our children will follow our example, not ours. A sleepaway camp, where youngsters aren’t allowed to use cell phones, has thrived in the last five years. Children need to learn the lesson of living simply, but parents with a house full of gadgets are having a hard time teaching it.

We can’t protect our children from every danger, but we can make them insane by attempting to do so.

When we watch the news, we worry about what could happen to our children. Several mothers told me that their three children, ages 11, 8, and 7, all go to the same elementary school, which is only a three-block walk away. Only 13% of youngsters walk to school today, compared to 41% who did so 40 years ago. Ten to twelve hours of free play per week have also been slashed for children. As a result, many children are confined to their homes, where they watch television or play on the internet rather than go for a walk in the woods. Parents are doing their best to raise their children, but our obsession with safety is causing us stress and limiting our children’s ability to be self-sufficient.

Our children will never be self-sufficient if we don’t teach them to be dependent on us.

Every child and every parent must learn to practice being independent in order to thrive. You have to run and leap and sometimes fail, and then put the bar back up and run and jump again. Independence is like high jumping. Your kids will strike that bar and you’ll cringe, but you can’t jump in to save them. Finally, they’ll have many wonderful moments even if you aren’t around to witness them. If you truly feel that your job as a parent is to prepare your children for life beyond the four walls of your house, you must learn to step back and observe from a distance.

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