“There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one.”
– Sue Atkins, (Specialist in Parenting Issues, Also published several books, including Raising Happy Children for Dummies and Parenting Made Easy).
Fall. Rise. Learn. Repeat.
This is the natural order of a child’s growth. Children are born with an amazing degree of self-confidence, fearlessness and curiosity to explore the world around them and learn on their own. How a child learns to walk and talk almost on his/her own is the simplest and earliest manifestation of this natural ability! This natural urge for autonomy and independence also grows within the child, as he/she grows up.
With all the good and well-meaning intentions, parents at times miss or overlook this natural need of a child, simply out of their love, affection or even insecurities. It is then, that their love, guidance, help, planning or supervision amplifies into what can be called as
In today’s age and era with the internet flooding with so much information around the world, some parents have become stressed and feel under too much pressure to produce perfect kids. Over-parenting to a very considerable extent is an outcome of this stress. Just like excess water or sunlight interferes with the growth of a plant, so can excessive parenting interfere with the natural spread of growth of our children. So the secret to raising successful kids without over-parenting lies in simply not over-parenting. We know it is easier said than done. That is why we have prepared a quick checklist of gentle reminders for parents:
• Effective Communication: Communicate, a lot, communicate often discuss and have conversations as if talking to an adult. Be loving, be strict, listen, listen, listen. Validate their reality. Find time to talk about all things that your child wants to talk about.
• Draw no comparisons: Each child is unique and has immense potential to succeed in one or the other area of life. The goal of parenting is “helping your child realize their potential – whatever it is” rightly observed by Amy Chua, Yale Professor and author of the book “ Battle hymn of the tiger mother’’.
• Foster independence in kids: Step back. Let them sort out their own issues. Let them take some decisions. As L.R.Knost, an independent child development researcher Founder and Director of advocacy and consulting group called “Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting” has observed in one of his researches that “the role of gentle parenting is to help our children learn to control themselves instead of trying to control our children.”
• Assign chores at home to develop self-reliance and sense of responsibility: Childhood should prepare kids for adulthood. Parents should give ample opportunities to their kids to get involved in daily chores of the household and praise them when the work is done responsibly. The famous Harvard’s Grant Study on Happiness and life has revealed “that happiness in life comes from the ability to accomplish chores”. Kids need to have the attitude to take up and finish the unpleasant tasks at hand. This is an attitude that also guarantees work life success in future.
• Limit instant gratification: Kids should be allowed the opportunity to “value” time and money. The attitude to wait, differentiate between need and desire and value resources is again an inevitable key to their success.
• Guide. Do not take control: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn” ~ Benjamin Farnklin. Let them learn from their mistakes. This develops resilience, creativity, problem solving skills and an attitude to accept failures in life and move on bravely.
• Model resilience: Resilience comes from an opportunity to face failures, endure pain and move on. Parents should not be overprotective about their kids as it interferes with their ability to tackle unpleasant situations and handle them without depression, anxiety or fear, later in their life. It is an important life skill that stands threatened by over-parenting.
• Let them learn self-advocacy: Kids do not always need parental mediators to solve their problems. Parents should ignore a few occasions to let the child learn to speak up for himself. This builds important survival skills for future.
• Allow free time: Over structuring a child’s free time with different extracurricular activities is also an aspect of over-parenting. Parents feel the urge to protect their kids from boredom. Not realizing that facing boredom, is an opportunity to develop life skills and nurture creativity. Children need free time to find out their own likes, tastes, interests, hobbies and this is important for successful career as well as personal life.
• Avoid overpraising: An important goal of parenting is to foster self-esteem in kids and also at the same time encourage them to excel in their area of interest or choice. Too much of overpraising may lead to overconfidence. A research study conducted by the Columbia University in 2007 found that the overpraised kids tend to avoid activities where they believe they won’t excel.
Kids need both freedom and boundaries to grow up to be the best they can. But more importantly they need a childhood richly nourished with love, understanding, time and attention of their parents. Knowingly or unknowingly they are constantly preparing the little blueprints for their value system, deciphering that of their parents.
Hence, as parents we should understand that
“We may not be able to prepare the future for our kids but we can definitely prepare our kids for the future.” – as quoted thoughtfully by Franklin D. Roosevelt.