Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah
As parents, we want to raise our children to be independent and to be able make their own decisions. However, if we give them too much of independence at one go, they may get confused, misuse the freedom or make the wrong choices. On the other hand, if we constantly use the benefit of our experience and make all their choices for them, we are perhaps destroying their ability to make their own decisions, making them dependent on us and sometimes even making them rebellious and resentful.
Helping our children grow up as independent persons isn’t easy. Often, there is a very thin line between giving too much freedom and very little. Creating a balance that works is not easy – in fact is sometimes quite difficult. So, how can we go about it?
It is important to take it one step at a time. Every time we do something for the little ones, we need to do it slowly and let them watch carefully, so that they learn how to do it themselves. If we are helping them wear their clothes, we need to do that slowly too. We need to talk about what we are during, show them the right side, explain about the front and the back of the dress and discuss the buttons or the straps.
As we all know, it is important not to be in a hurry, and not to do everything for the little ones, however tempting it may be. When they take time to figure out right and left, and front and back, we do get impatient and are often tempted to be done with it. It needs patience to stand by and watch them handle the buttons. Nothing is more rewarding than being able to do nothing till we are asked for help. Everytime we can stop ourselves from interfering, we are giving the little ones what they need the most – the chance to try to do what we want them to learn to do!
After we pass the stage of helping our children with every little task, we should simply be around monitoring them at some level. It is important to just stand at the side and watch. The more they start doing things for themselves, the more confidence they will start having in their own abilities. We should stop checking them at every step. Also, instead of telling them what they are doing wrong, it is much better to tell them before-hand how they can get it right. Often, the difference between raising children right and wrong is just a way of how we put things across to them.
As we teach themselves to stand and watch the little ones slowly get independent, we need to provide a powerful tool – help them make lists of his chores. Such little lists with things to do – like homework, music or dance classes, places to go – help the children complete more tasks by themselves and thus turn them into more independent and capable persons. It is good to start out by making the lists for them, and as they complete each task, we could make them cross it out. And before we know what is happening, their independence will make them confident, reassured and happy, ready to face new situations without fear.
Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah is Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Guwahati Medical College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com