In recent years, parenting has evolved and has become hyper-focused on the child. And while care, attention, and love are necessary in forming healthy relationships and helping children reach developmental milestones, the downside of an over-protective approach can also hinder them. While this parenting style comes from a place of love, in order to allow children to achieve autonomy, we must allow them the freedom to make choices and learn daily life skills. This will set them up for future successes.
It’s no doubt our world has changed, our lifestyles are more hectic and fast-paced than ever before. When coupled with the failures, peer problems, disappointments, etc., that children sometimes experience, it is hard for parents to sit on the sidelines and just let or watch things happen. And often, parents feel guilty for not having more time to spend with their children, so doing more gives them a sense of relief and creates what they think is a moment of connection with their child. However, research show that when children do not have to face everyday life challenges and are not given opportunities to learn life skills through good and bad experiences, they will be forced to depend on their parents even into adulthood. Dr. Mel Levine, author of “Ready or Not, Here Life Comes,” refers to this as the gateway to “work-life unreadiness.”
To achieve the right balance, parents should be aware of their child’s stage of development, level of maturity, and the situation. While responsible parenting involves providing all the necessities and love to children, it doesn’t mean doing everything for them. As children grow and develop, practicing newfound abilities will allow them to get better at daily tasks while also learning new life skills that allow them to build and increase their confidence in themselves. Taking time to teach children life skills, such as tying their shoes, doing laundry, or communicating their feelings, while guiding them through the process will foster more independence and resourcefulness in the child, and strengthen the parent-child bond.
In Gentle East Martial Arts classes our Instructors provide a safe and supportive environment for fostering autonomy. By utilizing Teaching techniques such as “choices” and “intrinsic motivation,” instructors provide opportunities for children to make their own decisions, which gives them a sense of pride and builds their confidence. And when something doesn’t go as planned, instructors are there to help them get back on track. Our Parent SKILLZ content also provides parents with methods to implement in everyday parenting that allows for time for connection while also building life skills at home that are necessary for a successful future.
Parenting should always involve love and support, but allowing children to tackle the “firsts” of life at the developmentally appropriate age is essential. The constant process of finding the right balance of caring for and protecting children while allowing for the achievement of necessary life skills is vital. Supportive parenting should always move children closer to independence and stability to navigate the world solo and prepare them for adulthood.