Ever since children start walking and talking, they prefer doing things themselves. It may start as a simple request of not wanting help to bathe or pick out their clothes, to walking to the park alone or buying candy from the store.
Children do have the right to liberty just like adults. Kids have the right to have an opinion which may often times differ from their parents’ views. Freedom in simple words is the power to act according to one’s own will, while respecting the law and the rights of others. However, since children are more fragile and vulnerable, parents tend to be protective and rightfully so in many situations.
Giving children independence requires balancing opportunities for them to self-manage, learn and make mistakes but at the same time not put themselves or others at risk. When kids are willing to take the responsibility to learn how to do something well, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and competence.
Also read: Teaching kids to think for themselves!
Along with giving children freedom, it is also important to set guidelines and boundaries. It is essential that children clearly understand the boundaries you set for them, such as how far they are allowed to go by themselves, how long they are allowed to be out or how much money they are allowed to spend at once. Children also need to know what to do if they need help.
Here are some tips to help your child have their freedom while keeping them safe:
Let them help at home
Let your child help out with chores at home. Ask them to set the dinner table or clean the windows on weekends. They can also get themselves ready for school which will teach them the importance of time management and responsibility. Children can accordingly pack their school bags the night before, polish their shoes and make sure their homework and projects are completed on time.
Read more on: Teaching our Children to Manage Time Effectively!
Let them be on their own
Once your child has mastered something, don’t do it for them. It can take time and patience to teach them how to tie shoelaces or make a cup of tea – but it will make everyone’s lives easier in the long run and increase your child’s self-confidence and sense of freedom.
Let them take risks
Only by getting on the bicycle, falling and getting up each time, will your child learn to ride the bicycle. Taking risks is a natural part of learning something new. The external world can be dangerous, but assess the true risks related to the activities your child is asking to do and it will help you make a safe choice.
Let them make mistakes
The best lessons in life are learnt through trying, irrespective of success or failure. We will never have an opportunity for success if we don’t attempt something new. However, this comes with a fair chance of failure. Don’t judge your child for failing or making mistakes. You can give exposure to children in a simulated environment to try new puzzles, various formats and different difficulty levels. This trains them to approach the unknown with confidence, not get daunted with increasing difficulty levels and keep going even if they get something wrong. This will boost their confidence to try new things in their adult life.
Let them choose
As parents, we tend to make all the decisions for our children. It is a good idea to take a step back at times and let children make choices for themselves. Give children the freedom to make healthy decisions. With practice, they will make lesser mistakes and make smarter choices. If your child insists on studying for the test in the morning before school, don’t force her to study at night. Either she will study well during the morning hours and score well, or she may realize her mistake and study beforehand for the next test.
Parenting is tricky and there is no perfect strategy when it comes to solving the complex issues of kids and independence. Nevertheless, ensuring children take calculated risks, try new things and learn to cope with fear, anxiety and even failure is important. The first step is to accept the importance of freedom of thought and action, with its consequences and teach children to truly think and act free!
“The most important aspect of freedom is to be who you are”
– Jim Morrison