I was a wonderful parent before I had children. I was an expert on why everyone else was having problems with their children. Then I had two of my own!!!
Living with children can be humbling yet dealing with them is challenging.
At some point, to some degree, all children struggle in getting organised, exercising self-control and getting along with others. But some children need to have constant supervision and help far beyond the point when their peers are beginning to manage certain tasks on their own. You are probably wondering when you’re going to able to get relieved from these responsibilities like other parents. The following questions constantly lead to sleepless nights.
When will my child learn to calm himself/herself rather than rely on you, to do it?
When will he do things by himself/ herself rather than relying on you for your constant reminders?
When will your child become INDEPENDENT and manage self well?
While you are waiting for your child could suffer the loss of self-esteem, and you will remain frustrated and worried.
So if your child doesn’t have autonomy skills to meet REASONABLE expectations, it makes sense to take action NOW.
Below are a few principles for Improving your child’s Autonomy skills
- Consider Child’s Developmental Age and then, let them make choices accordingly.
- Modify tasks to match your child’s capacity to exert effort and show respect for the struggle that they have undertaken.
- Take opportunities to brainstorm with your child, offer the child choices and see which one feels right to him.
- Break overwhelming tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. If the tasks seem too hard or too long, asking your child to do only one piece at a time, this may make the child more likely to start on it.
- Use the child’s innate ability for mastery and control- Don’t take away hope and let the child explore the possibilities before mastering any skill
- Look for opportunities to show the child another picture of himself.
- Let the child overhear you say something positive about him or her.
- Model the behaviour you would like to see
- Praise the child for using age-appropriate/ good skills- for e.g. “ I like the way you started your homework with only one reminder from me”
- Let the child learn to express his/ her feelings. Whenever we listen to children’s feelings, or share our own feelings with them, or invite them to problem solve with us, we encourage their self-reliance.
- I always believed that rather than expressing what the child did wrong, praise them for what they did right.
It’s a bittersweet road we parents travel. We start with total commitment to a small, helpless human being. Over the years we worry, plan, comfort, and try to understand.
Even though many of these skills you just looked at may seem like common sense at first, there’s nothing common about any of them. It takes some determination and practises to talk to children in ways that foster their independence.