As our children get older, we hope that they can rely more on their own skills and judgments. However, if they are used to someone doing things for them, they may be less apt to try things on their own even if we believe they would be successful if they did.
So what should we do to build self reliance in our children?
(1) Get honest with yourself:
Before stepping in, ask yourself; Do they really need my help or do I just want to feel needed? Do they need me to assist them or simply support and encourage them? As parents and mentors we only
want to step in when we are really needed.
(2) Help them to set an independent goal:
What is something that they would like to be able to do on their own but may be too nervous or worried to try? Help them to set an appropriate goal that is a little challenging but still within their reach. Once attained, encourage them to set and get another one!
Before stepping in, take a moment. Breathe. Children need to struggle a little bit in order to learn and grow. If it’s always easy or done for them, they don’t learn the skills they need to operate on their own. They may make mistakes and it may not be done exactly right the first time. That’s OK! Allow them to make mistakes so they can learn that each one is only a stepping stone to ultimate success.
(4) Ask questions rather than supplying the answers:
When your children ask you to solve a problem for them or take over when they get a little frustrated,
refrain from being the solution. Instead, ask them, “What can you try now? Where can you find that answer? Help them exercise their own critical thinking and show them that they often have the answer if they just try a little harder or do things a little differently.
(5) Review their successes:
Remind your children of how far they’ve come. Praise them for taking healthy risks, trying something on their own, and being persistent. Even mistakes, in the pursuit of learning, can be saluted as they are part of becoming self reliant. Your children will be excited that you noticed and will likely want to do more!