Remember the first time you held your baby in your arms? Were you excited? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Did you ask yourself, “Holy cow, what have I gotten myself into?”
Somewhere along your journey you realized your baby depends on you 100%. Feeding, diapering, gross and fine motor skill development, language, hygiene, transportation, education and independence are your parental responsibilities.
The journey to foster your child’s independence is somewhat like a roller coaster. Leading your child to independence will be filled with steady upward climbs, rapid descents, quick turns and occasional loop-de-loops. Give these steps a try to foster your child’s independence and remember to smile for the camera!
1. Praise the effort, not the outcome.
You live in a competitive world. Someone’s child is always outperforming yours: reaches milestones faster, scores more points, has higher test scores, gets married and has children before yours. While your child’s outcome might earn you bragging rights, praising the outcome might limit your child’s potential. A study conducted by Carol Dweck, Professor at Stanford showed that children praised for their outcome (versus effort), “enter a fixed mindset, they play it safe in the future and they limit the growth of their talent.” The next time your child finishes, praise the effort, perseverance, leadership or positive attitude. Remember that coming home with the blue ribbon isn’t the end-all-be-all!
2. Let your child fail.
Why is failing so important? Learning how to overcome failure is a process that develops character, builds resiliency and fosters independence. Options: you can fix the problem for your child or encourage your child to find a solution. Let your child forget his/her homework. Watch your child have a temper tantrum. Witness your child quit when the going gets tough. THEN, coach your child on how to be responsible, model logical reasoning to your child and demonstrate problem solving. Your child will not only persevere, but will become independent, a winning combination!
3. This is how we roll!
Moms, as you can see by the above photo, sometimes you just need to roll with it. As an A-Type personality, it is not always easy for me to just “roll with it”, but at the same time, my kids need to see that life is messy, chaotic and not prim and proper. After a long week of single parenting (my husband was traveling), I was grateful that my kids could set the table, prepare their own dinner and engage in conversation…their journey to independence. Define how you want your family “to roll” and help your child gain independence.
Being the strongest mom is as much about effort as it is the outcome. You wake up everyday and put your best foot forward reminding yourself it is about progress, not perfection.
You are all special and the strongest moms I know.