The key to your child’s future
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Self Esteem is about how lovable and how capable your child feels. Therefore, although we may not like the behaviour sometimes, we need to ‘separate the child from the behaviour’. ‘I love you; but that behaviour is not okay’. To ensure your child has a sense of competence we need to realise that doing less teaches them to do more, so give opportunities for they to learn new tasks. The weekends are a great opportunity to take time to show your child a new task and to make your life easier while helping your child become responsible.
What kind of parent are you? A good parent who does everything for their child, picks up their clothes, makes their lunches, reminding them of what they have to do, dropping forgotten items into the school? What about help with dressing, supervising eating, settling fights, making all the decisions? A ‘good’ parent may deny their child opportunities to learn from experience; or learn from the consequences of their actions i.e. (forgotten lunch).
How to help your child become responsible, confident and competent
A responsible parent however treats their child with equality and respect and encourages them to make their own decisions and to live with the consequences. For a child can become remarkably responsible when they are given responsibility. Seven year olds can make their own school lunches, all ages can settle their own fights, and a 10 year old can use an alarm clock and be responsible for getting up. Life can be a lot easier on parents, and it is a more effective and responsible approach.
What did you need when you took on a new task? Encouragement, encouragement, encouragement
Time for training and guidance is essential, but worth the time investment! Set a time aside to show your child how to make their own lunch and you’ll be surprised how interested they are, especially if they are involved in menu planning/shopping; ‘as long as it’s healthy’ is my mantra! They love to learn, and you need to capitalise on that. Lots of encouragement enables children to learn, while criticism or ‘put downs’ makes learning threatening and dries up their efforts. Remember, they are children, and ask yourself ‘Are my standards too high?’
Focus on effort and learning will continue
As children take on new tasks (always better if they choose), a parent needs to be in the background, their best friend, encouraging them, showing and helping when necessary, letting them try for themselves and gradually withdrawing, pleased to see them growing in independence. Let children do it themselves, as much as possible with your help and encouragement.
Teach your child to do something and enable them
Think of some new task you could help your child achieve this weekend to make life easier when back at school. Examples could be: Children dressing themselves, washing their teeth, tie their shoes, ride a bike, and wash their hair, cook, and bake. Young children can get their own breakfast if you set it up i.e. (low cupboard, with plastic bowls, cereal in ‘easy pourer’ and small jug of milk in fridge. The secret with any new challenge is to ‘size it down’ and set age appropriate challenges your child can achieve. The result is them feeling good about themselves, increased competence and confidence and higher self esteem.
What are you doing for your children that they could do for themselves?
What new responsibility could you begin to introduce this week, maybe with a star chart to encourage.
There is only one rule:
An absence of any criticism of your child’s efforts while they are learning, then just provide the opportunity, give lots of encouragement, see their effort ,notice the improvement and learning will continue!
Enabling children comes second to nurturing, but is vital for children’s survival.
- Give your child lots of opportunities to learn new things
- Children have a natural drive to learn and parents need to capitalise on it.
- Children love to learn as long as there’s an absence of criticism.
- Time for training & guidance is essential for a child to learn something new.
- Children become responsible, when given responsibility.
- Parents need to challenge children
- Encouragement of children is essential when they are learning.
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CONTRIBUTOR Sheila O’Malley www.practicalparenting.ie
She is one of Ireland’s leading Parenting experts who set up Practical Parenting to offer support and training for parents. Sheila is a fully qualified Parent & Relationships Mentor who trained directly over four years with Dr Tony Humphreys . Sheila is a regular contributor to TV and Radio and is a former Parenting Correspondent with Independent Newspapers. She offers Parenting & Relationship Talks and Courses to Companies and Schools as well as a 1:1 Service. Courses run year round.