Raising Children With Strong Wings Ready To Fly
When our children are little they need all of our attention. They are helpless, only their cries help determine their needs. Then they begin to grow and toddle around. We can step back only a few feet and watch them grasp their first unstable steps of independence. As their parent, their protector we make sure to keep our hands out open to catch them when they begin to loose their balance and tumble to the ground. Our job as parents is to protect our children, keep them from harm and teach them how to survive in this world.
If you think about have you realized yet that our children will spend most of their lives without us standing at arms reach ready to catch them. Our children will one day give us one more look back and venture out on their own to live independently spreading their wings to fly away. If we parent with this knowledge in our back pocket, that our time is so short with them, would we then teach more independence?
As the mother of four my goals since each of my children were little were to raise them to be age appropriately self sufficient. This means when they were ready and capable, they were to put on their own shoes, then tie them followed by keeping track of their own shoes. My goal then and today as they are much older is to help them be as successful as they can be when they are adults. My philosophy has never been to keep them young and have their wings clipped so they would always be close to me. As much as I love my children and the very thought of them leaving for college or moving our of our home crushes me, I have promised myself to never clip their wings but to let them fly wherever they want to go. This starts from very young, this philosophy this way of parenting, it begins when they are just toddlers.
The Child Ages 1-5
The toddler years are vital in developing an independent thinker proud of their accomplishments. Though they are still so young your words and how you train them during this time is life changing. As soon as they can walk you can start building up their confidence. For example words are a powerful thing, they can build a child up or tear them down. In fact they can even shape how the child will view themselves as they grow up. How many times have you said or heard a parent say “My child is shy?” then talk for them or make excuses that they are not talking rather than believing in their child, training them to talk to others and breaking out of their shell. My daughter wanted to by shy, she would constantly hide behind me and tell others she is shy. But we changed that.
Tips To Help Boost Independence:
*They love hearing “You are a big girl or boy you are now!” So boost that confidence!
1. Little jobs around the house builds a can-do attitude with lots of encouragement and working side by side with you. It won’t be perfect, expect to do the job again but the lessons you are providing is invaluable.
2. When out in restaurants have your child start to order their food on their own. It may take a few times for them to gain confidence, but you will find they are proud to do this each time you go out. Teaching your child not to be shy or helping them overcome that, will serve them far more in life than you will ever know! If you as the parent refer to them as shy, they will keep that label until you change it. Why not start by saying “Your not shy, I know you are confident and outspoken, let’s practice”
3. Leaving them with a babysitter or preschool. Make sure and give them a hug and kiss and tell them you love them and you will see them in a little bit. Knowing they are safe and can learn to play with others or trust others prepares them for elementary school and teaches them social skills and how to become a better friend. DONT be the parent who keeps coming back for more hugs and cries when you leave them. That only feeds insecurity for your child. They will feed off your fear or need to be wanted. Just because you dropped them off with someone else does NOT mean your child no longer needs you.
The Child Ages 5-10
These years fly by! Once your child hits elementary school it seems like time just really begins to speed up. From Kindergarten to before Junior High these kids grow leaps and bounds and can do more than you ever thought was possible, but… You must allow them too! Believing in our children has been one of the biggest lessons I am learning being a mother. Talking my kids up, rather than down. There is an expectation that grows during these years and then followed through. An expectation that they are beginning to become little independent adults. Their personalities begin to blossom, sense of humors, talents and even areas they struggle in. Too many times I have heard parents focus on the struggles and talk as though there child will never overcome them. For example rather than tell your child “Your just not good at math” how about say “Let’s figure out a better way we can help you become a great math student” As a parent we should never cap off our children’s ability but rather find different way to help them conquer their fears or struggles. Pause for a moment do you truly want your child to believe they are bad at something? No, never… so it is up to us to train them to believe they can achieve greatness even with struggles.
Tips For Success:
“I believe in you, let’s figure out a way to make that dream happen or help you become better in that subject.”
1. Finding sports or activities outside the home they can be successful with, boosting self esteem. Gymnastics, soccer, karate, swimming. Group sports are a great way to help develop problem solving skills. Individual sports promote setting goals and working toward achieving those goals. It is never to early to teach our children about goals and dreams.
2. Buying their own electronics or bigger ticket items or maybe they pay a portion towards the purchase. Who says as parents we must always be buying the biggest and best items for our children? Having our kids earn money through report cards or chores around the house teaches them how to budget and save all life skills they must know when they finally say goodbye to us. Do you know how proud they are when they do purchase the item they have been saving up for? They also will treat that item much better because they worked hard and helped to get it.
The Pre-Teen & Teen Years:
Before I full get into this area, understand I am there now and it is all by trial and error. But so far these years that for so long terrified me have actually been quite the exciting and most rewarding time yet as a mother. There is a shift that takes place, you are still the parent of course but slowly you are also becoming a friend who must be honest, truthfully honest at times. Conversations begin to change and talks of life experiences begin to creep in. Your child will want to know your beliefs and how you view the world. This is a crucial time and it is hard to not to tell your child what they should believe. These our the final years our children may be in our home, so make them truly count. Encourage your child to explore different religions, topics and be a parent they can trust, one they can come to and ask any question. This is also the time to admit you don’t have life figured out or in fact even being a parent. One of my favorite mom lines I have used many times has been “I’m learning how to be a parent just as you are learning how to grow up.” or “What would you do if you were the parent? What consequence do you think you deserve?” Lets admit it, we are never perfect parents. Far from it, so our kids need to know this! It helps them to know failure is an option and in fact it is part of life. Keep calm and don’t react when they want to talk about sex, in fact talk about it a lot so it is no big deal. Let them become the person they are truly happy and meant to be. Not who you think they should be. Remember they have their entire life without you ahead of them. Accepting them now in these final years will make them hopefully want you in their lives for the remainder of your days.
Tips For Strong Wings As They Prepare To Fly:
1. Open communication ALWAYS! Staying calm, loving and chill and letting the vent or share their thoughts even if they sound crazy. Love them through their hormonal outbursts, not so great judgement at times and of course then they fail big time. Love them and be patient through it all with lots of hugs. This is not the time to shove your beliefs down their throats but help them research and talk through their own thoughts.
2. Prepare them for life without you. This is HUGE! Start to talk about it, tell them you will always be there for them even when they are out conquering the world. Start teaching them to cook, clean and budget money. Work with them on setting goals giving the the skills to achieve those goals. One night a week now each kid in my home over ten has a night they are in charge of cooking. They are LOVING it and so proud to serve the family dinner. They also write yearly goals and dreams and they are striving to reach those goals. Once they reach high school they must spend their own money on all the extra trips to the movies theaters and activities they line up with friends. We may a portion but they must use their own money for any extra candy or other things they want.
3. Help them figure out if college is right for them and help them get there. Or maybe it is traveling to another country and doing humanitarian work after high school. In order for our kids to be able to fly we must help pave their flight path. I have often heard this from parents “College isn’t for you” or “We are just poor so that’s all you’ll be” Don’t we want our children to be better than us? I would never want to cap out my children’s future by the words I speak to them. Our job as parents is to teach them that with hard work, dedication they CAN do so much and more than they could ever imagined. NEVER limit your children but rather preach “The sky is the limit” or “Go Get Them” attitude.
4. Train them to have a good work ethic for their future. Set timelines with household chores or send them to work with friends at times. This builds confidence and skills that might come in helpful in their future. Your not being a bad parent for teaching your children a work ethic, in fact just the opposite. Kids strive on routine and organized days but also allowing them to be kids while they can. Finding balance in your teens life is key.
As I sit here writing this I know I am not perfect, I don’t have the magic solution to make each kids independent and successful or the long run. I am just learning as I go and watching my own kids react to my parenting. What I do know is that so far my kids have become very independent and they are proud of all their successes. It has been an honor and continues to be as I watch them grow and enter new phases. I have realized my time with them will be quite short, and I am learning to embrace the time I do have with them. I want them to be excited to be on their own, to experience this world as I have been able too. Not as a scary place, but one of beauty and joy. I want my children to know that there is no limit of what they can achieve and although I am no longer holding there hand, I am standing on the ground beaming watching them soaring to new heights, some I may never been able to reach!