You can achieve your child’s independence in small ways, which over time lead him/her to their own proficiency. Sometimes we over-parent out of habit. We’re used to helping our young child with buttons or coming to the rescue when something is broke or whatever the case may be. Although it feels like the right response at the time, doing this can stunt our child’s growth where independence is concerned, leaving them looking for us at every turn. Some strategies I’ve used in avoiding overparenting over the last 20 years follow.
With my first child, I was available at the drop of a hat, just around the corner and in their face for virtually everything. By the time my 4th came along, I was allowing my then 3 year old to get herself dressed entirely for the most part, unless there was a difficult button or zipper to deal with. They knew how to tie their shoes by 5, which really gave me some freedom, other than helping with choosing the outfits.This aspect of our kid’s lives can probably be safely handed over to them much sooner than it is by helping them choose an outfit that matches, then letting them do their own dressing.
It seems like so much of life is about striking a balance, and the same seems to go for praising our kids. I’ve seen some ugly things come out of over praising my kids. In fact, when one of my kids was over praised for her effort in school, she actually began to slack off. She began to feel like she really didn’t need to strive for success in the same way she would’ve if she hadn’t always been hearing about her great work. I thought I was helping with lots of praise, but it just backfired. This was when she expected high grades for less work. I was able to re-establish her good school habits by easing up on the praise and being firm with homework strategies as always.
I tended to be a friend micro-manager early on in my motherhood career. I thought certain people were bad for my girls but as I kept having more kids, I could see how doing that wasn’t helping them. They became dependent on me to pick who they should talk to and interact with. I made a guideline for myself which focused on letting my child choose who to be friends with, and unless that person was deliberately hurting them physically or mentally, I wouldn’t step in too much. Noone is perfect and none of my girls friends were either. This gave them the opportunity to manage their friendships when pitfalls would occur.
When it comes to activities, sometimes less is more. The kids get as overwhelmed as we do when they have too much on their plates, and furthermore, their not ready to manage things like planning how to get from point A to point B, and the time management involved in that sort of planning. Especially if there’s a ton of those issues to take on. I’ve begun to simplify life by doing less after school activities and creating more time for relaxing.
Source: Personal Experience