Some days as a parent, I find myself questioning whether or not I’m doing my absolute best job. Am I being patient enough? Attentive enough? Am I helping them grow into their best self? Am I succeeding as a parent, failing or falling somewhere in the middle? Then I STOP! I STOP all the questioning, self-doubt and self-ridicule and I remind myself that my boys are happy, healthy, flourishing, excelling and overall amazing! The positives far outweigh the negatives, so maybe we should STOP being so hard on ourselves.
Parenting isn’t about beating yourself up for all your mistakes. It’s more about drowning yourself in that crazy parent-child love that only parents can understand. It’s about doing your best and being okay with our mistakes and moments of failure. It’s about learning from our mistakes in parenting and trying to fix these areas for the next incident. It’s in these moments where we grow as human beings and as parents.
ISN’T THIS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO TEACH OUR KIDS TO DO?
Aren’t we trying to teach them that we don’t have to be perfect? If we look at our mistakes through this lens, you will see that our mistakes are blessings in disguise. Our mistakes are actually moments of positivity and act as learning opportunities for us, and them. It’s not a time to feel down and beat yourselves up, but rather it’s the perfect time to better ourselves. So this is where I suggest to you that we all STOP and ask ourselves one single question:
AM I DOING MY BEST TO PARENT TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY?
If your answer is yes, then stop all the pondering, wondering, questioning and self-ridicule. Even though we are doing our best we will all still make mistakes along the way and that’s okay. It’s these moments of error and failure where we find ourselves driving down the same road we want to our kids to drive down. Lets start looking at our own mistakes as positives. With this new outlook we can truly begin to teach our kids how to be confident and independent. To do this we can follow 5 simple steps!
5 WAYS TO HELP BUILD YOUR CHILD’S INDEPENDENCE:
- Set high, but achievable expectations
Often times it’s easier and faster to just do it for our kids. To just tie their shoes quickly to get out of the door. To just pack their sports or school bags to be sure it gets done properly. To just remind them to do their homework, so they don’t get a bad mark. Unfortunately, when we just do it for them we are not helping them, but actually hindering them. We are telling them without words, but through our actions, that we don’t feel they are capable or responsible enough. We are telling them that we can do it better. We are not setting expectations for them and in doing this they are not given opportunities to build confidence. But rather they are left feeling incapable and lacking true self-worth and confidence. Instead, lets allow more time in the morning to slow down, stop rushing and let them tie their own shoes and zip up their coats. Give them the opportunities to do things for themselves and learn from their successes and mistakes.
- Set the stage, teach, practice and role-play
When you want your kids to be successful in meeting expectations, it’s important to teach up front. Front loading will decrease anxiety and set your kids up for success. In order to do this it’s helpful to do a few practice runs and role-play before you actually begin. For example pretend it’s a school day and let them get ready independently, follow their morning routine chart (see article Charts are a Parents’ Best Friend) and help them during this time where assistance is needed. When the big day comes to get out of the house for school independently, do it without nagging or reminding. You have already done your job with the front loading and practicing. Now, it’s their turn to do it on their own! They are CAPABLE and they CAN do it!!
- Failure is key
Once you have front-loaded, trained, practiced and role-played, it’s safe to say that you’ve done your job and now it’s their turn. Once you hit this stage it’s extremely important for you NOT TO BAIL THEM OUT! If they forget their homework -don’t drive it to school. If they learn what failure feels like and are given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, it’s here that they will learn to be responsible and gain independence. If you continue to nag at them, remind them to get their shoes on, tell them to pack their bags, then you have defeated the purpose and once again you are telling them that you don’t feel they can handle it. Don’t worry about their failures. Think of them as learning opportunities and give them the ability to grow. After the mistakes occur its’ your chance to help them come up with solutions to help them fix these mistakes the next go round. That’s where our positive parenting comes in!
- Let natural consequences play out
Natural consequences are amazing learning tools when you let them play out. Like I just mentioned above, let them forget their homework or sports equipment. Let them go to school without their coat if they forget to grab it in the morning or refuse to put it on. When they are cold for one day, they will remember their coat the next. If you continually remind, then they will continually forget! I know it’s hard to think about our kids being uncomfortable for even a second. But, when they are uncomfortable for a second it helps them rectify it in the future. These are their opportunities to grow and develop! Don’t rob them of these chances to gain independence. Help them gain more by letting the natural consequences occur!
- Step-back and give them the chance to try, learn, fail and succeed
Lastly, once you’ve set the stage, front-loaded, practiced, role-played and answered any questions they may have, then it’s time to simply step-back. Step-back and let them experience life. Step-back and watch them succeed. Step-back and watch them fail and learn from these mistakes and natural consequences. Step-back and watch their independence skyrocket. It’s here that you can sit back and know that you are truly parenting and offering them opportunities to grow into responsible, capable adults!!!