By: Natasha Archary
Most parents want to raise strong, independent kids. Many parents find it hard to define the fine line between being:
- Authoritarian or Disciplinarian
- Permissive or Indulgent
Parenting is all just a juggling act isn’t it? You could be the type of parent who drops everything and rushes to your child if they so much as wince.
Or you’re the type who just shrugs and wipes away a bloody knee with a dirty tissue, or back of their shirts, whichever’s cleaner. The bottom line is that all parents are just trying to get through parenting, hurdle by hurdle.
This afternoon on Kaya Drive with Sizwe Dhlomo, the question is “At what age do you allow your children to do things for themselves?”
Mommy’s boys and daddy’s little princesses are raised with a softer hand than the past as parenting styles change. Boys are protected by their mothers while girls are mollycoddled by their dads. But are we doing our kiddies any good by keeping them in a bubble?
Probably not. Being too lenient on the little lives who need guidance and discipline, structure and education, nurturing and consistency doesn’t make you a better parent. It’s not preparing them to face hardship, by spoiling them with every one of their wants because heaven forbid you say no and be labelled a bad parent.
Say no without the guilt
“Mommy, I can’t do this on my own. I need you.”
“I’m done playing, you can come bath me now!”
“Daddy come wipe me, I’m done making a poo!”
Every parent has heard these phrases and ask themselves, “when will my kid be able to do this on his/her own?”
At some point you’re going to have to say “Nope! You’re old enough now, do it yourself, without mommy or daddy’s help.”
Raise them strong
Empowering your child from a young age helps them develop independence.
Strong and independent kids are able to express their feelings of uneasiness and discomfort with confidence. A simple, “No, I don’t want to,” when someone oversteps a boundary can go a long way in this day and age.
An independent child will also have no issues with separation. Dropping them off at school is a swift and tear-free procedure because they are certain you will be returning to fetch them at the end of the day.
There’s a level of maturity with kids who are raised to be strong and independent. They don’t rely on caregivers and often show initiative as leaders.
If you have a clingy, fussy toddler who seems to be reattached to you by a limb or two, try one of the suggestions below to attempt to break that habit.
Arrange monitored playdates with other children who are older than your child
This will give your child a well-rounded social circle. Your child will be more likely to assert himself amongst the older group. Mimicking the behaviour patterns of the older kids and their sense of self.
Don’t run to your kids immediately
If they’re screaming and trying every annoying little thing to grab your attention and you’re busy, don’t drop what you’re doing to rush to their side. They need to learn how to keep themselves preoccupied or self-soothe long enough for you to brush your hair before you head out the door. Unless there’s blood, they’ll survive a few moments of alone time.
Speak to them like you would an adult
Talking down to kids and using “baby language” or a higher pitch than you would when engaging with an adult undermines your child’s intellectual capabilities. They’re able to pick up on verbal cues and tones from about nine months. From the age of two, try explaining to your child what you expect of them, what you need them to do and share details about your plans for the day. This will set the dynamic for how your child will later engage himself.
Allow alone time
For an hour every day, children should sit by themselves in a room and play. Whether they have siblings or are an only child. This stimulates their imagination and promotes creative play. Thinking up different worlds and creatures is the most memorable part of childhood. Every child needs to have that.
Say no every now and then
This doesn’t make you a mean mommy or naughty daddy. It makes you a parent who is honestly just doing the best you can. If you can’t afford something, if they’re being overly dramatic or you just have had enough, say no.