How to teach your kids to be more self reliant
Any teacher of low income inner city kids will tell you that they are the most self reliant kids.
They often come from tragic backgrounds, single parent homes, and poor living conditions.
They are almost always on time for school – because if they aren’t they miss breakfast and don’t eat.
They don’t forget to bring their supplies and they treat their belongings with respect because they know what their absence feels like and are grateful for them.
They live that way because they don’t know any other way!
You DO NOT need to neglect your child to build those qualities in them.
To quote Bruce Lee, you can “absorb what is useful, discard the rest ” from that example
PS. I’m a 3rd generation Bruce Lee student- still passing lessons on.
We want children to make mistakes, but they need to be manageable mistakes that they can recover from.
Tattoos, piercings, and unwanted pregnancies are not what we would consider manageable mistakes because they are permanent.
If your child wants to leave for school in shorts and a T-shirt when it’s 30 degrees outside – let them and don’t argue!
Let them freeze it out then have a discussion about the experience. (NOTE: A discussion is NOT a lecture!)
If they forget their lunch- let them go hungry for a day.
Have a discussion about how that felt emotionally, who else it effected, etc..
If they misplace or lose a toy because they didn’t treat it responsibly- let it go!
Ask what they could do differently next time and remind them that they are welcome to use their own money to buy another.
Your kids will never truly appreciate you making a meal for them until they learn how much work it actually is and what you sacrificed to make it happen.
Have them make their own breakfast, and prepare their own lunch.
You’ll find they naturally express new level of gratitude when you cook something for them.
As a bonus they will also tend to be less picky eaters because they participated in the process.
Why not make it fun?
My 5 year old son struggled to remember to close the car door every time he got out.
Instead of lectures , reminders, and punishments we “gamified” it.
I told him that every time he remembered to close the door he could give me 10 tickles and if he forgot he would receive “10 tickles”.
We would tickle each other’s ticklish spot and count out loud to 10.
He thought it was fun and started remembering and a month later it closing the door was habit and the tickles were forgotten- but the door remained closed.
Similar games later applied to his lunchbox, school bag, etc..
What about things that they aren’t fully capable of doing on their own yet?
First off, you’d be surprised what they are actually capable of and you are probably underestimating them.
That being said, my son lacks the grip strength to undo the seatbelt on his carseat.
He started getting lazy and didn’t even want to try anymore- it was “too hard.”
I explained that if he didn’t try, I wouldn’t help him.
When I parked the car, I would look to see him staring off out the window without attempting to unbuckle.
I simply walked inside the house for a few minutes and left him there in the car.
He screamed, cried, etc.. I came back and reminded him that he had to make an attempt.
This went on for a week or so, and eventually as soon as we parked he started trying to get his seat belt off.
He started to get one part of strap/buckle and then eventually he could do it all – to my surprise!
HE actually “gamified” it – he would act like he didn’t try and pretend to stare out the window – when secretly he had already completely unbuckled himself and was trying to fool me!
Celebrate their wins, and place very little emphasis on their failures – just let the natural consequences be the lesson.
Remember, what makes them successful is not what you do for them- it’s what you have taught them to do for themselves.