Today’s parents are living in the age of ‘helicopter parenting.’ Parents are being accused of hovering over their children, to both their benefit and their detriment. In this recent article in Scientific American, a study revealed that “25 is the new 18” with a growing trend of “a higher parental investment in fewer children.”
In short: the study argues that helicopter parenting has resulted in more young adults not engaging in ‘adult’ behavior. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: significantly fewer teens are engaging in drugs, drinking, and sex than previous generations. Unfortunately, they are also less likely to get a job in high school or even in college.
All parents desperately seek balance. It’s important to be involved and invested in your child’s life. It’s equally as important to protect them and keep them safe. However in this effort to protect our children, parents sometimes underestimate what their children are capable of and tell themselves “He’s too young to do his own laundry” or “She’s too young for a job.” By doing this, we’re raising children who will remain children well into their teen years and beyond.
Believe it or not helicopter parenting pairs nicely with teaching kids to be self-reliant. If you’re hovering over your little one then you’re already involved, invested, and teaching. Make the most of this time by using it to teach them to “do it themselves.”
5 Ways to Teach Children Self-Reliance
1. Teach your kids essential life skills.
Not everything your kids need to know is taught in a classroom. If you’re tired of wrestling your toddler into his shoes every morning, consider taking the time to teach him to put on his own shoes. Have a teenager who just started driving? It’s time to learn how to change a tire! Don’t feel like cooking every night? Teach your kids how to make a sandwich or heat up leftovers. Teaching your kids essential life skills at any age helps build their confidence.
Approach each lesson with patience, especially when you’re teaching little ones. Let your kids fail throughout the learning process, but encourage them to keep trying. Repetition and encouragement are key to teaching children to master a new skill.
2. Give your kids choices.
Giving your children choices empowers them to think for themselves. For younger children, start small: let them pick what shirt they’d like to wear to school, for example. For older kids, let them choose a family activity on the weekend, such as the movie you see or restaurant you go to. Providing them with choices will not only encourage them to make their own decisions, it will also demonstrate that their opinions matter -- both within your home and in the world.
3. Assign age-appropriate chores.
Even the youngest children can complete an assigned task every day. With small children, start with little tasks such as bringing their plate to the sink after dinner, sorting laundry, or making their bed. Be patient and to let go of your notion of “perfect.” With both younger and older kids, emphasize how they’re contributing to the household. Give them lots of praise and remember to thank them for their contribution.
4. Teach your kids time management.
This may sound like a concept for young adults, but any child who can tell time can learn how to manage the way they spend it. For example, if your child has one hour until their bedtime and they want to watch a television show and play, explain that the TV show is thirty minutes and then they will have 20 minutes left to play and another 10 to pick up their toys before bed. Show them on an analog clock how much time they have so they can keep track themselves.
Older children will require more structure. If you haven’t already, create a nightly routine that allows for time for homework and studying as well as time for leisure. Teach them to set their own alarm clock in the morning so they can get themselves up and ready for school on time. This will initially take some monitoring and practice, but once they get into the habit of being in a routine they’ll never want to be without one.
5. Teach your kids to manage money.
Whether they’re using a piggy bank or a savings account, it’s never too early to talk to your kids about money. For kids that are too young to get a job, consider paying them a small amount for their daily chores so they can earn their pocket money.
Encourage your kids to set savings goals, whether they’re short term (a game or toy) or long term (college or a down payment on a car). Help them with their budgeting: how much do they need for spending on the weekends? How much money is left? How long will it take them to reach their savings goal? You may be surprised to find that they adjust their spending habits to reach their goal faster. Coming to these conclusions on their own is part of the learning process.
For more learning tips and educational resources and insight, visit TeachNest at teachnest.com/blogs/news.