One of the main tenets of parenthood is raising an independent, autonomous child. I always felt like this was one of the greatest catch 22’s in my lifetime. As I diligently read and mastered all of the ways to foster independence in my child, I was more than a little devastated when they no longer needed me to take care of the little things for them.
As a child, I remember playing with my neighborhood friends from early morning until the shrill of my dad’s whistle rang through the neighborhood, letting me know that it was time to come home. I admit it was from an era that is unfortunately long gone. It was an era that allowed children to roam around freely, ride bikes with no hands, and climb tall trees. I felt like I had good parenting, and I seem to have turned out ok.
The fearful environment of today has led to children being confined to fenced-in backyards, being constantly monitored as to their whereabouts, and planned play dates. When my child was invited for a sleepover at a friend’s house, I gathered my list of questions that I would use to interview (interrogate) the other child’s parents. Is this considered good parenting or being an overly protected parent?
There must be a happy place for good parenting that resides somewhere in the middle of ‘free range parenting’ and ‘helicopter parenting.’ Free-range parenting is being frowned upon (and certainly not considered good parenting) because no parent, in their right mind, would send their child off to the bus stop unchaperoned.
The helicopter parent would walk their child to the bus stop, wait with them, and hold their hand as they boarded the bus.They would then have a short instructional conversation with the bus driver to alert them to any and all special circumstances related to their child.
There is a difference between parents that send their unprepared kids to the bus stop, and parents that take the time to teach their children how to walk safely to the bus stop. I think the key to good parenting is providing guidance and encouragement, but also showing confidence in your child’s abilities and giving them the freedom to discover a sense of competence, security and independence within themselves.
Good parenting tips for raising an independent child:
Good parenting tip: Provide opportunities for independence by giving your child age-appropriate tasks and allowing them the time they need to complete them. Let them make their bed, dress and undress themselves, put their shoes on, pour milk on their cereal or juice in a glass. They can help set the table, and pick up their toys when they are finished playing with them. Praise them with positive reinforcement to help build their self-esteem.
Good parenting tip: Encourage exploration by allowing your child to choose which activities they would like to do. Teach them that they have some control over their lives and their decisions. Good parenting involves offering your love and support, and they will gain self-confidence in their abilities and learn that they are capable of taking care of themselves. By offering choices and options, you will boost your child’s confidence to meet new challenges as they feel more confident in their decision-making and problem-solving capabilities.
Good parenting tip: Give children responsibility such as age-appropriate chores around the house. Good parenting instills a sense of belonging that lets children know they are a part of the family. This means they contribute equally to the home maintenance. Children need to take responsibility and hold themselves accountable for their actions. It is important for children to take responsibility for not only their victories, but their mistakes and failures. Good parenting allows our children to fall short and make mistakes, but it also teaches them to overcome and feel more secure in their abilities.
I would not say that my parents nor myself always used good parenting skills. I would say that I was allowed to make decisions and had to deal with the natural consequences whether good or bad. With my child, I tried to give them the freedom and information they needed to make good decisions, to problem solve, and to grow up to be confident, capable, and independent. Find what parenting style is right for you.
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