LAST Thursday, our nation proudly celebrated her 60th year of independence. It was an important milestone as being independent is a dream come true for everyone. Let’s face it, nobody likes to be shackled by anyone or anything. We want to be able to live our life free.
Bringing this concept home, have you considered how “free” your children are from shackles? The chains that bind can come in many forms, from overly protective and controlling parents to highly dependent children. Let’s take a look at how we can all create more independent children.
Most of the time, parents fail to train their kids to be independent. They may think the child is too young, unable to do things on their own or it’s just not their job. This is a wasted opportunity because children need to be trained to be independent.
Besides, imagine what kind of signals we’re sending if we keep doing everything for them? Children will feel that they are not capable enough to do it by themselves, leading to poor self-esteem as well as limited creative and critical thinking. All these are critical skills that they need to lead a fulfilling, successful life.
So, what can we do today to start preparing them for the future? I call this step “Creating Artificial Struggles”. It’s for them to do hard work today for an easier tomorrow. There are plenty of smart and easy ways to train our kids to be independent. Start by assigning them a specific chore at home. In doing so, we are actively training them to take up some responsibilities in life. They will be rewarded (e.g. praises) for a job well done. Similarly, they will be held accountable (with pre-agreed consequences) if they fail to deliver. Please note though, avoid monetary or material rewards here as these are their must-do responsibilities anyway. Just heap praises where due will do. This is the concept that I borrowed from the “delayed gratification” concept where one can enjoy the reward after working for it.
It is a great training. Not only do we significantly reduce the work per person via sharing, we also get to train them on life skills such as responsibility, teamwork, discipline and time management.
They can help with many things around the house, even if you have domestic helpers. It is a rule in our home for all to wash their own utensils after each meal. Parents must walk the talk; they must be a good example to the kids. Hence, it’s a common sight in our kitchen to see me and the kids lining up for our turn at the kitchen sink.
Besides that, each child should have his or her own little duty to help around the house. For example, one person can set the table before the meal while another one can clear it after. Another person can take the garbage out every night while another one can water the plants.
At the end of the day, training our kids to be independent will do them a world of wonders. It may seem “cruel” and “harsh” for little kids to struggle to pick up their toys and wash their shoes, but in the long run, these things are exactly what they need. Unlike what the pampered children may think, life is, after all not a bed of roses and the world doesn’t owe anyone a living.
The earlier they discover this, the faster our kids will be independent individuals and very possibly, live a happier, more fulfilling life.