As soon as the words kids and independence are spoken together one might envision kids crying and throwing tantrums and making life in general, hellish for parents. One might recoil from this nightmarish vision when we talk about kids being taught to be independent. Thus, for some, parenting revolves around maintaining and exerting control over their children and their every waking moment and even the thought of relinquishing that control could plague them with anxiety.
Let us however, take a fresh look at what it means to allow your kids to be independent. Independence even for adults means having a choice among alternatives. After all none of us have unlimited choices, or at least most of us don’t. Thus, it is no different when it comes to our children.
Alternatives are good:
Give them alternatives and let them choose things for themselves wherever you can; even if you think that you need to give very narrowed down choices.
Consequences come with choices:
Though it might seem counter intuitive to reason with kids, it is always a good idea to talk to them logically and then let them face the consequences of their decisions. Of course, you will be doing these things in controlled environments, but it is good if you let your children figure out, that the choices they make matter, and ultimately lead to consequences.
Decisions mean autonomy:
If you think that you need to make the decisions for your children for every tiny little thing, think again. Your child might very well be capable of deciding many small things for themselves. Of course, you will be making the decisions that have bigger impact, but smaller things like what they wear, what they snack on or when they do so could be something you let them decide.
Involvement in grown up discussions:
Involve your child in discussions leading to decisions, especially those that impact them. Let them see the process by which a healthy discussion can turn into a decision that works for everyone. Ask their preferences backed by reasoning, if possible, to know them better. You might be surprised by how much your child is learning and absorbing from their surroundings.
Privacy with time:
Allow your child a bit of privacy and control over their own lives by letting them manage their time by themselves. Make sure it is allowed in an age-appropriate manner and also let them manage some daily activities by themselves within a stipulated time so that they learn time management.
Once you take a long look at the above and reconsider your thoughts about allowing your kids to be independent you will actually see reduced tantrums and more balanced behaviour in your children. This is because your children will know that they are the decision makers and they will be the ones to face the consequences.
Your children will probably still have different thoughts and ideas than those of yours, but they will be founded in rationality and knowledge and responsibility rather than ad hoc contrarianism.
At Little Laureates, children learn to be independent in their thoughts; to communicate, collaborate, create and think critically. Not just the WHATs, our laureates are encouraged to chase after the HOWs and the WHYs. This helps to form the foundation for a strong individual– confident, competent and powerful.