RAIS­ING A SELF-SUF­FI­CIENT CHILD

It may break your heart to let him go, but watch­ing your child soar into happy in­de­pen­dence is ul­ti­mately re­ward­ing. It’s also, iron­i­cally, a lot of hard work

Your Baby & Toddler - - Talk­ing Point - BY MAR­GOT BER­TELS­MANN

He­li­copter par­ent­ing – the ten­dency for par­ents to hover over their chil­dren, ready to swoop in and res­cue them out of the first sign of dif­fi­culty – is a much laughed­about mod­ern phe­nom­e­non. So much so that in protest, Ann Mc­cready launched the con­cept of a “No-res­cue Pol­icy” in her book, If I Have To Tell You One More Time. Here, she ad­vo­cates no longer re­mem­ber­ing your chil­dren’s school lunches for them, among 35 more steps to fos­ter­ing a healthy sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity in chil­dren.

“A child who al­ways for­gets has a par­ent who al­ways re­mem­bers,” jokes Ann, be­fore mak­ing the se­ri­ous point that a child who is al­ways res­cued from fac­ing any con­se­quences of his for­get­ful­ness is robbed of the chance to de­velop per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity and learn from the mis­takes he’s made.

Some cul­tures fore­ground com­mu­nal­ity; oth­ers value in­di­vid­ual achieve­ments. But re­gard­less of whether you lean to­wards ubuntu or cut­throat cap­i­tal­ism, self care and emo­tional ma­tu­rity are ba­sic skills chil­dren need to at­tain so that they can func­tion well as in­di­vid­u­als in even the most com­mu­nal of so­ci­eties.

Self-suf­fi­ciency is not the op­po­site of healthy in­ter­de­pen­dence. The co­ex­is­tence of de­pen­dency with in­de­pen­dence is some­thing to re­main aware of in your par­ent­ing, agrees ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gist, Jo Hamil­ton. “I find that some par­ents hover too much over their child, and when they then de­cide that their child needs to learn in­de­pen­dence, they can be too ex­treme and too quick in their ex­pec­ta­tion. What I sug­gest to par­ents when they are try­ing to pro­mote in­de­pen­dence in their child is to bridge it. Through their par­ent­ing, find thought­ful and cre­ative ways to help a child to progress from de­pen­dence to in­de­pen­dence. It is a process.”

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