Happy Fourth of July, for those celebrating in the US or elsewhere.
As we celebrate independence day for one country I’d like to invite you to take a closer look at what it means for your child to be independent.
An independent child is a happy confident child, a child that has been given opportunities to know what he or she is capable of.
“The child resists letting adults help him if they try to substitute their own activity for his. The adult must help the child do things entirely on his own, for if the child does not reach the point of ceasing to rely on the help of adults and becoming independent, he will never fully mature intellectually or morally” – Maria Montessori, Education and Peace p.101
Often time I sense that when I say “give your child independence” it’s wrongly interpreted as if I were to say abandon your child. Not at all!
You and I, and just about everyone on this planet seeks and thrives on independence. It is after all a basic human need.
The state of being independent is freedom from outside control or support. It is empowering to feel self-sufficient, to know you can do things for yourself.
So how do we help our children find their own independence?
There are simple steps to take in your home but most importantly it’s in your attitude vis a vis your child and his or her needs for independence. The level of independence will surely depend on your child’s temperament and their individual characteristics; therefore, no one should push a child to be ‘more’ independent. It’s about respecting their individual needs.
For me, it means letting my children make decisions for themselves, whether I’m 100% ok with them or not. A perfect example of this was this past weekend… I drove up the coast with my son of 18 years to help him find a place for next year as he embarks on his university studies. College does not start for another two months but he’s heading off to Europe for a few weeks with friends on a trip he has organized on his own (another story of really letting go and letting him be 100% independent of his choice*).
We visited a few options, there was the single room in a private home, a shared room in a small house with 4 other male students, or a large house with 21 housemates. We also visited a nice apartment except he needed 3 other roommates before signing a lease, that might be an option for next year.
Once we visited each of these places we talked over the pro and cons. The final decision was his to make.
What do you think he chose?
Personally, I preferred the small house with just 4 other students, they seemed studious and the property manager was a lovely lady I was happy to connect with.
Well, he chose the large house with 21 housemates!
He was so confident of his decision. I have to trust that this the best for him, even though it was not my first choice.
That’s what independence is all about. His father and I have guided him for the past 18 years to trust himself and to have the confidence to make his own decisions. He might regret it in a few months or he might be ecstatic, only time will tell. What is important is that we have instilled trust in him and respect his choices. As for his sister (23), well she’s living her independent life in Scotland, blossoming into a confident self-assured woman.
It is our journey as parents to learn to trust our own intuition but most importantly to empower our children to have trust in their own abilities.
It starts from the time of birth, how we set up their environment how we involve them in daily activities and learn to slowly but surely let go of the need to make decisions for them.
How are you instilling independence in your child at home? Let me know in the comments and if you would like some guidance on how to do it with loving kindness in your home, book a discovery call with me, I’d be happy to help.
P.S. *The trip to Europe, well that’s a whole other level of respecting his passion. He’s off to race in the International Downhill Skateboarding Federation. Yup that’s about 60 mph on a skateboard! When asked how I manage letting him practice such an extreme sport, my answer is; “Who am I to get in the way just because I’m afraid?” I trust him and have always known him to be a cautious daredevil. He will be in Italy, Czech Republic and Romania and I’m so excited and proud that he has planned it and organized it all on his own.