In­de­pen­dence day around the cor­ner

Maroochy Weekly - - ADVERTISING FEATURE / PARENTS AND KIDS - Ka­rina East­way

WHILE rais­ing in­de­pen­dent chil­dren might sound great in the­ory, the re­al­ity is that it in­volves a lot of let­ting-go – some­thing that can sound scary to even the most ro­bust of par­ents.

But do­ing some ground­work now can pay off big-time when your lit­tle ones reach adult­hood.

Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and di­rec­tor of The Par­ent­ing Cen­tre Maleny, Dr Bob Ja­cobs (af­fec­tion­ately known as Dr Bob), said there are a few qual­i­ties we want to en­cour­age when it comes to rais­ing in­de­pen­dent chil­dren.

“It’s an adap­tive be­hav­iour we’re nur­tur­ing for their adult life, but the onus is on us as par­ents to be walking the walk,” Dr Bob said.

He ex­plains first we must come to terms with our own reser­va­tions: are we happy to ac­cept that in­de­pen­dence means they’ll be less un­der our con­trol and, as a re­sult, mak­ing their own de­ci­sions?

While the “pun­ish­ment and re­ward” par­ent­ing model makes for a more com­pli­ant child, it doesn’t help to cre­ate in­de­pen­dent adults.

“The goal is get­ting rid of any de­pen­dency on us – that’s there from day dot. From the time they’re 16 or 17 they shouldn’t be de­pen­dent on us at all,” he said.

“That’s where the ship is ul­ti­mately head­ing and it’s des­tined to set sail.”

Dr Bob sug­gests the more in­de­pen­dence we can give our chil­dren the bet­ter, within the con­fines of ap­pro­pri­ate safety mea­sures, of course, both phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally.

But al­low chil­dren to make mis­takes and look for ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to al­low au­ton­omy.

Here’s Dr Bob’s top tips:

Let chil­dren make their own de­ci­sions

Ask “what can they take over that I don’t re­ally need to con­trol?”.

Look to en­cour­age au­ton­omy in their choices – for ex­am­ple, does it re­ally mat­ter what time the kids brush their teeth if they’re want­ing to do it at an­other time?

Re­spect­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion as a fam­ily

As adults we have equal power so we dis­cuss things ap­pro­pri­ately to find so­lu­tions.

A fam­ily is its own lit­tle com­mu­nity, even though as adults we’re taller.

Talk to your kids rather than get­ting into power strug­gles with them which don’t need to hap­pen.

In­stead, set aside the power and the rules: dis­cuss what’s go­ing on for you and get them to as­sist with find­ing a bet­ter so­lu­tion.

Kids’ men­tal de­ci­sion­mak­ing skills are en­hanced by hav­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive approach.

Try giv­ing them a few days to come up with a so­lu­tion on their own – they may even sur­prise you with so­lu­tions you hadn’t even thought of.

Err on the side of in­de­pen­dence (as long as it’s con­sis­tent with safety)

If it’s a grey area for you, then go with the in­de­pen­dent op­tion.

Kids need both the abil­ity to be able to make de­ci­sions for them­selves and also to be com­fort­able in what they’re do­ing with­out adult su­per­vi­sion.

Per­mis­sion to feel

Give your chil­dren the free­dom to ex­pe­ri­ence feel­ings with­out hav­ing to ex­plain them.

When some­one’s up­set (es­pe­cially chil­dren), we usu­ally want to know why and to try and fix it for them.

But some­times they don’t know ac­tu­ally what’s wrong and just need to sit with their feel­ings and work it through.

“Even ba­bies cry some­times for no rea­son,” Dr Bob said.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful thing to see a par­ent hold­ing the baby and lov­ing it while it’s cry­ing.

“The baby still knows it’s se­cure and loved but it’s a great les­son to learn: you don’t have to change the way you feel to make some­one else feel bet­ter.”

Give these lit­tle tips and tricks a go. As a re­sult, you’ll have ca­pa­ble and con­fi­dent adults func­tion­ing in the real world in no time.

PHOTO: AGENCY

TRY IT: Cre­ate a sense of in­de­pen­dence for kids and they may just sur­prise you.

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