The biggest goal of your children’s growth and development is that they learn how to be successfully independent. This can be a difficult transition for parents and kids. Here are a few ways that you can help your children establish that necessary independence in a healthy and helpful way!
Respect Their Decisions
You have time and experience under your belt that have taught you things you surely want to pass on to your kids—of course you want to prevent the awkwardness, frustration and even pain that comes with failure! However, that awkwardness and frustration and pain are actually essential learning opportunities that help your kids understand how to make the right decisions. Lessons stick better when learned through experiences, associated with memories and feelings. And as Degruyter points out, if you respect your children’s decisions, they will also feel a heightened sense of responsibility and maturity knowing that you trust them to make good choices.
Have Open Conversations
Don’t underestimate how smart and capable your kids are! Children’s minds are constantly taking in the world around them, including the actions of their peers and adults. When they notice things that don’t align with their understanding of life, those observations often turn into questions they ask you. Take advantage of these moments to have open conversations with your kids in which you can explain things thoroughly. As On the Move points out, especially when large life changes are involved, talking openly with your children can help them feel more confident and allay any fears. These conversations don’t have to be awkward or uncomfortable! In fact, the more “taboo” you make certain topics, the more likely your kids are to explore other sources for answers, and those sources may not be ones you trust. Instead, be the source your children trust to be kind, patient, honest, and to take them seriously.
Encourage Them to Do Hard Things
Difficult things require bravery, effort, confidence, and a step outside one’s comfort zone. When your child achieves something hard, each of those qualities increases in them! They will feel more confident and capable, less afraid of trying things in the future. Encourage your children to try new things, to take risks! Support them when they succeed but also (especially) when they fail! As they develop the ability to get through difficult situations, they will feel more self reliant while knowing they can go to you for help and encouragement.
Helping your children be independent doesn’t mean ignoring them when they need help or forcing them to do things alone. It does require being patient with their decisions, open with their questions, and supportive with their trials! Each of these will foster a healthy, positive independence that you and they will feel confident in.
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