Weekend’s are a great opportunity to try some things to make your life easier while helping your child become responsible.
How do you parent? Are you someone who does everything for their child, picks up their clothes, prepares their lunches, reminding them of what they have to do, dropping forgotten items into the school? What about help with dressing, supervising eating, settling fights, making all the decisions? Yet this may deny the child opportunity to learn from experience; or learn from the consequences of their actions i.e. (forgotten lunch).
An enabling parent however treats their child with respect and equality and encourages independence. This parent also allows the child to experience consequences. For a child can become remarkably responsible when they are given responsibility. Seven year olds can make their own school lunches, and settle their own fights, and a 10 year old can use an alarm clock and be responsible for getting up. It all makes life a bit easier for you, and it is a more responsible approach.
It’s essential to take time for teach them a new task, but worth it! Make the time to show your child how to make their own lunch and you’ll be surprised how interested they are, especially if they are involved in menu planning/shopping; ‘as long as it’s healthy’ is my mantra! They love to learn, and you need to capitalise on that. Lots of encouragement enables children to learn, while criticism or ‘put downs’ makes learning threatening and dries up their efforts. Remember, they are children, and ask yourself ‘Are my standards too high?’ As long as you focus on effort, learning will continue.
As children take on new tasks (always better if they choose), a parent needs to be in the background, like a friend, encouraging them, showing and assisting when necessary, letting them try for themselves and gradually withdrawing into the background, happy to see them growing in independence. Let children do it themselves, as much as possible with your help and encouragement.
Identify some new task you could help your child achieve to encourage competence. Examples could be: Children dressing themselves, washing their teeth, tie their shoes, ride a bike, and wash their hair, cook, and bake. Young children can get their own breakfast if you set it up i.e. (low cupboard, with plastic bowls, cereal in ‘easy pourer’ and small plastic jug of milk in fridge. The secret with any new challenge is to ‘size it down’ and set age appropriate challenges your child can achieve. The result is them feeling good about themselves, increased competence and confidence and higher self esteem.
What are you doing for your children that they could do for themselves? What new responsibility could you begin to introduce this week, maybe with a star chart to encourage.
If you want this to work, there is only one rule:
An absence of any criticism of your child’s efforts while they are learning, then just provide the opportunity, give lots of encouragement, see their effort ,notice the improvement and learning will continue!
Enabling children comes second to nurturing, but is vital for children’s survival.
Give your child lots of opportunities to learn new things
Children have a natural drive to learn and parents need to capitalise on it.
Children love to learn as long as there’s an absence of criticism.
Time for training & guidance is essential for a child to learn something new.
Children become responsible, when given responsibility.
Parents need to challenge children
Encouragement of children is essential when they are learning.
Sheila O Malley trained for two years with as a Parent Mentor with Dr Tony Humphreys and runs ongoing Parenting Talks, Courses and Workshops in addition to her One to One Parent Mentoring service. See www.practicalparenting.ie or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org