Make your child self-reliant
Inculcating self-reliance in my child has always ranked high on my list. Not to undermine the importance of education and values, I want to draw attention towards what we might be overlooking. Why the premium on self-reliance? Because it’s not just a trait but a survival kit. A child who knows she can rely on herself will sail through challenges life throws at her. Surprisingly it doesn’t take much to instil that confidence in a kid. Start small, bigger leaps will take care of themselves.
Resist the urge to intervene. Every intervention is a lost opportunity. When we step in to catch a falling child, the child assumes we don’t trust her. Despite our good intentions, the child feels incompetent. The child may fall, get hurt but you’ll be so proud of her when she shrugs, dusts off the dirt and is back on her two little feet. The glint of triumph in her eyes will tell you that you are on the right track.
Involve them in daily chores. We’re usually in a hurry so the last thing we want is little kids coming in our way. But try involving them in daily activities. I used to call my girl my ‘Little helper’. When they strut around in their titles, chores don’t seem like chores. It is messier, takes a little longer but it’s well worth the effort. Not only does it give them confidence but it also helps us bond with them. What’s not to like in this?
Get a pet. I’ve myself been unable to do that. It means more work but if your child is ready to shoulder the responsibility and you ain’t too edgy, make a dash for it. Having a pet is therapeutic in ways more than one. When your kid feels responsible for it, that’s an icing on the cake. Bigger challenges don’t seem daunting later if they are used to responsibility at a younger age. When they’ve known the limits of their capabilities or rather their limitless capabilities, they can take on the world.
Take your kid to the bank. Open a bank account. It’s never too early to teach them money matters. Take them to the market or to the grocery store. Make a list of things with them that you need. Let them pick and choose. Allow them to transact. Try ‘grown up stuff’ in controlled settings and then gradually take away the controls and see them slide effortlessly into reliable mode.
Have to-do lists, make time plans and try to stick to them. That doesn’t mean a regimented life but if a task needs to be done, an exam is to be studied for, break it down into smaller task packets. Leave time for play and fun. Take the child’s inputs and incorporate them. If she is involved in the planning process, there are higher chances that it will be followed. It may not work out from the word go. Sit and analyse what went wrong, what could have been done. Be persistent. It pays.
We protect our children from adversity fearing the consequences. But when you start small, the consequences are usually not so harsh. If there is an unfinished project and despite your reminders it hasn’t been completed, let the child take it as it is to school. She has to take responsibility for her actions and what follows. Adversity is a far better teacher and much more effective too. That means we have to face our demons too. How we deal with them and their consequences, influences the child. Our regrets, denial, anger or any negative emotion towards our own shortcomings gives them ideas to deal with their own in a similar manner.
There are times of utter chaos and it is but natural for us to hit the panic button. RESIST. Instead step back, take a deep breath and concentrate on what can be done NOT on what has happened. I remember losing our luggage just at the beginning of a holiday and our daughter’s gaze was fixed on us. I admit to having a wave of panic sweep through me. My husband said we had two choices either to ruin the holiday that lay before us or to just go ahead with what needed to be done. Had I not caught my daughter looking at me, I would have probably moped. But I had to choose to be braver. We never got the luggage back. The compensation wasn’t enough but I believe my daughter learnt a precious lesson. In the process I too became a better version of myself.
As the world is shrinking, we do not know which corner of it our kids will end up in. We may not be able to accompany them in the journey that they must take. What we CAN do is make them independent, strong, resilient and responsible. It is our moral responsibility to make them aware of their capabilities.
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