Dear Parents, I Want To Be Independent

Dear parents, I want to be independent

For many people, being independent is extremely difficult because it takes a lot of effort and perseverance. To be psychologically independent is to be equated with an attitude towards life full of courage, love and trust in one’s own potential.

But for all the benefits of such an attitude, it is not so easy for some people, largely because they have not learned to be independent. Some people do not learn this attitude as children and then inevitably come across it in later life.

“The ideal is not that children should accumulate knowledge, but that they develop skills.”

John Dewey

Learning to be independent doesn’t mean being reckless

When we encourage children to do things on their own, we are giving them a clear signal. We make them understand that they are able to get by in the world and that we believe in them. In this way, they stop expecting help from others and begin exploring their own resources.

However, we should clarify a few things. When we speak of independence, we don’t mean recklessness. We speak of adequate challenges necessary for healthy personal development. A child can learn to be psychologically independent to the extent that their parents believe that they can solve certain problems on their own.

“Child development follows a path of successive stages of independence and our knowledge of this must guide our behavior towards the child. We have to support it to act, want and think independently. “

Maria Montessori

If we don’t allow them to make mistakes, they cannot learn

In the following we give an example for a better understanding: A child is learning to divide. It learned in school and now it’s time to do homework and practice. At that moment, a parent shows up and realizes that the child is having a hard time.

Facing this challenge can lead the parent to do their homework for them. In fact, some incredibly talented children manage to get adults to do their homework for them because they know how to do it. But giving in to this temptation is not good for them. Parents can help overcome children’s fears of a challenge, or they can start the task to help focus, but they are not allowed to do their homework for them.

We have to give children the space to act themselves. If we step in too quickly and don’t let them try to divide on their own, we’re conveying to them that we don’t trust their abilities. We are saying that it is too difficult a challenge for them and that they should give up before they even try.

Our trust is a huge gift for children

In the example above, the parents could choose a different route. You could sit next to the child and let them do the division themselves. The child will do their best and they will make mistakes. Parents can guide them through trial and error along this path, pointing things out to them without giving away the answer.

We must allow children to make mistakes because this is how they learn to divide correctly. And so we give them the space to familiarize themselves with the process, to have doubts and to resolve them themselves. In this way, they mark their own path and no longer get stuck.

They will understand where they went wrong and correct the mistakes. Learning this will give them a sense of ability and competence. With this new way of looking at yourself, you will be able to approach your own problems with more confidence and self-assurance.

“My father gave me the greatest gift that can be given to another person: he believed in me.”

Jim Valvano

By helping them in this way, you will not leave them alone with difficulties, but you will support them in developing their intellectual abilities. You’re helping them figure things out, find possible solutions, prove themselves, try. All of this creates new connections in your brain. And that’s why the family plays such an important role.

Overprotection hinders their development opportunities

Overprotection involves a type of support in which the adult intervenes immediately as soon as the child faces a minor difficulty. In this way the child learns that someone is always there to solve his problems for him. It stops trying on its own because there is always someone around to do it for you. It just has to sit there, smile and wait.

“Even the greatest love needs air in order to develop.”

Daniel Glattauer

The quick help should convey love and care to the child: “I do everything for you because I love you.”   But hidden therein lies the message: “I will do everything for you because I don’t believe that you can do it yourself, ”  and that will ultimately give the child the impression that they are unable to cope with things on their own.

How excessive protection affects your children

This is how children stop trying things, experimenting, making an effort, and missing out on many opportunities to grow. They are increasingly placing their lives in the hands of their parents. But that is not without a whole series of consequences:

  • You will ask parents to help them with their homework more often.
  • You will lose motivation at the first sign of trouble.
  • You will only have a low tolerance for frustration.
  • You will become insecure and dependent on others.
  • You will develop little self-esteem and only a poorly defined self-concept.

It is therefore important to support children in making their own discoveries, trying things out, and tolerating frustration. Thus, they will learn that they have the necessary resources and skills to solve most, if not all, of the problems they encounter in life.

We close this post with a Chinese proverb that you’ve probably heard before:

Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for life.

We would like to encourage all parents to teach their children to fish instead of giving them a fish at the first difficulty and to let the youngsters make their own experiences. It will be a necessary and very useful lesson for them in the future.

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