I’ve been used to my GPS constantly correcting me and requesting that I make a legal U-turn when possible; but the other day it simply didn’t work. There I was, left to fend for myself.
Quite frankly I am directionally challenged, and not able to look at a map and figure out where I am or where I’m headed. At that point I realized how much dependency I put on the GPS, and now it failed me. In reality I failed myself by not having enough of a foundation to figure things out. I realized that without the GPS, I was lost.
There isn’t any difference in the world of parenting. Our job is to give our children a good foundation, but it’s the confidence they build in handling situations that creates one of life’s most important characteristics; self reliance. Much like me without the GPS, your children will be lost without self-reliance.
Think about how we teach children to ride a two-wheeler. You put the training wheels on and then kept loosening them up little by little until they are confident enough to take the ride without any training wheels at all.
p.s. Great hint – -when you’re running along side the bike, it’s a great idea for you to be in rollerblades. It makes the job so much easier!
Here are some ways to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction in teaching self-reliance (no pun intended):
- Let the kids make some decisions as early as possible. So what if they’re wearing stripes and polka-dots?
- Demonstrate that you are always solving little problems and learning along the way. Aren’t you? After all, who figured out how to install the new TV?
- Move from being ‘the all wise and powerful’ mom or dad to a coach. Tell them less about how they should do something, and instead raise questions they could answer for themselves. “Why do you think your friends responded that way?”
- Be a great support system. They might need your encouragement to try again, or a little harder, or in taking a slightly different approach. If they come to you for permission to give up, don’t make it so easy for them.
- Responsibilities are very important for building self reliance. Even with very young children, assign chores that make them part of a family that works together. For example, for a child as young as age 3, take digital pictures of them making their bed; 1) put the pillow in place, 2) smooth the sheets and lift the blankets, and 3) lift and smooth out the comforter. Laminate the pictures and put them near the bed so they can see how well they did.
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