Parenting Made (A Bit) Easier: How to Raise Independent, Confident Children
Despite what some moms and dads may think, raising children isn’t easy. It is even harder if you’re a people-pleaser and thus prone to enabling spoiled behavior.
However, that shouldn’t put you off the idea altogether. There is a way to foster confidence and independence in children without feeling like a bad parent.
But to do so, you need to learn more about what the consequences are; what might happen if you raise children that depend on you too much?
The Importance of Building Confidence and Independence in Children
The Beatles may have had it all wrong when they sang, “All you need is love.” Love is certainly the ultimate gift we may bestow upon another person. Yet, when it comes to raising children, we have to give them more than that.
Naturally, every parent out there is adamant about showing how much they love their kid. However, it is easy to go overboard and become an overbearing, helicopter parent who’s too invested in their child’s happiness, education, basic daily needs, and more.
Instead, our parenting style should ensure that one day, our children will be able to go out into the world by themselves and become incredible people. By easing our grip from time to time and letting them make mistakes, be sad sometimes, or learn how to help themselves, we should foster confidence and independence.
Thus, we won’t have to worry one day whether they’ll be able to pay their own bills or take care of their own kids. In a sense, independence and confidence are the greatest gifts we can give our offspring. It’s what will give them an advantage in the real world of adults.
Your vs. Their Responsibilities
Every parent has a set of responsibilities they should stick to. For some, these are fairly obvious. Parents are there to provide their children with means, opportunities, and support. We have to give them our love and encouragement, as well as guide them toward making good decisions. At the same time, we should be able to provide materials, education, and the like so that they may have a good life.
But these responsibilities don’t include coddling or assuming others’ roles. We shouldn’t do things intended for our children, at least not all the time. Of course, showing a child how to do a particular math problem once is fine, as it falls under instruction. However, if we start doing their homework, we’re well on our way to making them entirely dependent on others.
And what are the kids responsible for, you may ask? Well, their only job is to use those things we give them to their advantage. For instance, if we work day and night to provide our kids with a good education, they should be grateful and commit to making the best of it. They ought to recognize that their effort will be rewarded, but that it has to come from the heart.
Still, to achieve anything, they have to give it a good go and not give up just because the results weren’t what they expected. In a sense, they should take what we give them and maximize all the lessons they may receive from our parenting.
Spoiled and Contingent Children
But even though everyone wants to be a good parent, not all mothers and fathers are actually aware of how their actions may trigger certain behaviors in their children. Because of that, it’s not uncommon to spot the two most common opposites of independent kids: spoiled and contingent children.
We’ve all seen the screaming matches between parents and spoiled kids in malls, supermarkets, outside on the street, etc. And most of the time, we think our kids will never be like that — we won’t allow it!
But spoiled kids aren’t made by doing something super wrong. In fact, most parents who now have to deal with “brats” only wanted their kids to feel their love, or at least see it in the form of something that makes them happy. They simply didn’t want them to struggle!
In essence, they were going overboard with it all — over-parenting, over-indulging, and over-praising. That only bred entitled behavior, as they were very invested in providing their kids’ happiness and comfort. But by doing so, they never actually let them earn anything by themselves.
On the other hand, some parents breed dependence in their offspring, accidentally or on purpose. Instead of letting them make their own mistakes, learn from them, and build their personalities, they want to stay dominant in their children’s lives.
Thus, most contingent kids rely on others for their own happiness, success, and comfort. They cannot make decisions by themselves, as mom and dad always know best.
Worst of all, they rely on outside incentives and basically don’t have ownership over their lives. They aren’t responsible for their emotions, actions, and thoughts, as their dominant parents serve as their guides.
Easing the Grip: When to Let Go for Your Child’s Sake and Breed Independence
Neither spoiled nor contingent children are something to strive for. Independence and confidence are the two most important traits we, as primary caregivers, ought to give our children.
But it’s usually all easier said than done, as parents, especially the fearful kind or those with previous trauma, may be prone to overdoing it. They may have a hard time letting go and easing their grip so that the child learns about life on their own.
Fortunately, there are a few ways of showing children that they aren’t an extension of you but their own people. These are our top 5 tips for raising confident, independent kids by knowing when to step in and when to let go:
Provide Them With Both Love and Respect Without Smothering Them.
Once your kids have grown up a bit, don’t be too eager to always shower them with love. You don’t want them to feel as if the world revolves around them. Instead, show your love by showing them respect and letting them set their boundaries. Of course, they will always be your babies, but treat them their current age, not the age you met them at.
Don’t Be Their Only Source of Happiness.
As a parent, your job is to give your child the best chance in this world. But you shouldn’t try so hard to make them insanely happy. It’s imperative for parents to let go of control. They have to stop thinking that their child’s every emotion depends on them and their actions.
Self-efficacy and independence are crucial skills to teach them so that they can use them in the real world. If they know they can rely on themselves, they will realize that happiness is always within their grasp. They are the ones who can control and achieve it.
Show That You Believe in Their Ability to Do Things on Their Own.
Some toddlers start talking way later than expected because their mothers or fathers have gotten used to reading their thoughts. But that only breeds dependency. After all, they now know that they don’t have to say anything or do much to get what they want.
This sort of behavior should be discouraged, no matter the child’s age, but not with yelling or negative reinforcement. Instead, parents ought to help their children help themselves and breed confidence.
You can give them hints as to how to do some things or where to get them. But if you skip the next few steps and do all the work for them, you’ll not only spoil them but make them think they’re incapable of taking care of themselves.
In the end, the child may be entitled or insecure — and neither is a good option.
Give Advice, but Don’t Make the Decisions.
We all want our kids to think of us as their guides, so we sometimes believe that lets us play a vital role in their decision-making process. Parents have to realize that they shouldn’t decide on things for their kids if it’s something that concerns the child only (like their love life, for instance).
However, they can offer their guidance and dissect the pros and cons of various choices. Then, they should let the child analyze it all to reach an informed decision with full confidence.
Let Go of Your Fears and Stop Catastrophizing.
Finally, some parents are afraid of letting go because they believe their children will make mistakes and ruin their lives. A simple error, such as forgetting to take out the trash, immediately means that the child will never be able to take care of themselves and will do nothing productive in their life.
This is a sort of catastrophizing overbearing parents are prone to, and it may hinder them from raising independent children. Why worry when they can simply do things for their child and ensure they don’t make mistakes, right?
Naturally, the behavior is anything but healthy and should be limited by letting go step by step and easing the grip over a period of time. Parents should focus on creating boundaries and lowering their expectations. At the same time, they have to show the child that they believe in their capabilities.
That way, they will teach their offspring responsibility, accountability, and even problem-solving. When they know some actions lead to rewards (not just in terms of stuff but life in general) and others to consequences, they’ll slowly but surely realize they are the only ones able to change the outcome.
Parents shouldn’t feel too bad about raising entitled, spoiled children, as most of the time, they were only trying to protect them. However, if you notice that your child is becoming more spoiled each day, remember that such children may never become independent, confident adults. We want our offspring to have the best chance in life and reach their dreams and goals. To that end, we should do as much (or as little) as possible while they’re young so that we don’t hinder their capabilities or make them entirely dependent on us.