Parenting is an experiment, the results of which are visible years later. And by then any intervention is not feasible.Of all the traits that I would want to inculcate in my 9 year old, self reliance is a must have for me. It is often ignored when education, morals and values take precedence. That is not to undermine their importance but to draw attention towards what we might be overlooking.
Why so much premium on self reliance? Because its not just a trait but a survival kit. A child who knows she can rely on herself will sail through challenges life throws at her. s
Surprisingly it doesn’t take much to instill that confidence in a kid. Start small, bigger leaps will take care of themselves.
To begin with, resist the urge to intervene. Every intervention is a precious opportunity lost. Every time we step in to catch a falling child, it seems to the child that we do not trust her. Our intentions are good but the child cannot help feeling incompetent. It may be a small thing for us but in the eyes of a child its a big deal. Resist at any cost. The child may fall, get hurt but you’ll be so proud of her when she shrugs, dusts off the dirt and is back on her two little feet. The glint of triumph in her eyes will tell you that you are on the right track.
Involve them in daily chores. We are usually in a hurry so the last thing we want is little kids coming in our way. But I have tried involving my daughter and nephew in daily activities and I call them my ‘Little helpers’. The enthusiasm that I get back is infectious. They strut around in their titles and chores don’t seem like chores. It is messier, takes a little longer but its well worth the effort. Not only does it give them confidence but it also helps us bond with them. What’s not to like in this?
If your child wants to have a pet and is old enough to care for it do consider the option. It means more work but if your child is ready to shoulder the responsibility and you are not too edgy about it, make a dash for it. It is well known that having pets is therapeutic in ways more than one. And when your kid feels responsible for it, that’s an icing on the cake. If they get used to responsibility at a younger age, then bigger challenges do not seem daunting later. They have known the limits of their capabilities or rather their limitless capabilities, that they can take on the world.
Take your kid to the bank. Open a bank account. Its never too early to teach them money matters. Take them to the market or to the grocery store. Make a list of things with them that you need. Let them pick and choose. Allow them to transact. Try such ‘grown up stuff’ in controlled settings and then gradually take away the controls. You will be pleasantly surprised how effortlessly they will slide into the reliable mode.
Have to-do lists, make time plans and try to stick to them. That doesn’t mean a regimented life but if a task at hand needs to be done, an exam to be studied for, break it down into smaller task packets. Leave time for play and fun. Take the child’s inputs and incorporate them. If she is involved in the planning process, there are higher chances that it will be followed. It may not work out from the word go. Sit and analyse what went wrong, what could have been done. Be persistent. It pays.
We protect our children from adversity fearing the consequences. As I said if you start small, the consequences are usually not so harsh. If there is an unfinished project and despite your reminders it hasn’t been completed, let the child take it as it is to school. She has to take responsibility for her actions and what follows. Adversity is a far better teacher and much more effective too. That means we have to face our demons too. How we deal with them and their consequences, influences the child. Our regrets, denial, anger or any negative emotion towards our own shortcomings gives them ideas to deal with their own in a similar manner.
There are times of utter chaos and it is but natural for us to hit the panic button. RESIST. Instead step back, take a deep breath and concentrate on what can be done NOT on what has happened. I remember losing our luggage just at the beginning of a holiday and our daughter’s gaze was fixed on us. I admit to having a wave of panic sweep through me. My husband said we had two choices either to ruin the holiday that lay before us or to just go ahead with what needed to be done. Had I not caught my daughter looking at me, I would have probably moped. But I had to choose to be braver. We never got the luggage back. The compensation wasn’t enough but I believe my daughter learnt a precious lesson. And of course in the process I too became a better version of myself.
As the world is shrinking we do not know which corner of it our kids will end up in. We may not be able to accompany them in the journey that they must take. What we CAN do is make them independent, strong, resilient and responsible. It is our moral responsibility to make them aware of their capabilities.First Published – https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/musings-and-reflections/article/raising-self-reliant-kids