Are you an overprotective parent? There’s a lot of discussion out there about the ill effects of “helicopter” parenting. Being overprotective, it is said, can stunt you child’s development, individuality, creativity, decision making and self-identity.
At the same time, a new trend, “free-range” parenting, is criticized as little more than letting kids bring themselves up, leaving a child with no perception of boundaries, ill preparing them for the “real” world of work and social interactions.
How do you know where the right balance can be achieved and what is right for your child? Consistency seems to be the key to effective parenting. Here are a few tips on striking that balance you strive for:
Know Yourselves: Partners need to agree on HOW they will parent. Living with the other parent can help this discourse happen often, but there are many parents out there that do not live together due to a number of reasons, like divorce, for instance. It becomes all the more important for communication to happen as often as possible and to share in decisions about you child.
Make expectations clear to your child. Let him/her know what you expect. Sometimes putting the rules in writing help both the parents and the child in that consistency is established and the child becomes aware of what is right and what is wrong and what to expect if these boundaries are crossed.
Set high standards and respect your child. Each child is different and should be allowed a voice. Listen, nurture and, allow your child a voice and be consistent.
Know Your Kids: Teach your child at her own pace. Since each child is different, it is up to you to know how your child responds to responsibility in gradual steps. Get a true picture of the maturity of your child by increasing responsibility in stages. Reward good outcomes with a little more responsibility. When a mistake is made give your child the guidance and support needed to move on to the next step. Gradual rewards of more independence helps teach the child how to think critically and make well thought out decisions.
Know Your Environment: Whatever the new step in responsibility may be, whether it’s trusting your child to go to the corner store, to remain at home alone for a few hours or spending time with friends, you must also take in to consideration the environment in which your child is living or visiting. Ask some of these questions when assessing your expectations and your child’s readiness for that next step.
- Is my home set up to be safe?
- Is the neighborhood safe?
- Does my child have a trusted support person to contact should I not be available?
- Does my child have the info needed to make an intelligent decision? Phone numbers, addresses, options for getting home, etc.
- Are there places and situations you feel are unsafe? Let your child know why.
These and other questions should be thought about, answered and communicated in a discussion with your child.
Supporting your child’s growth in independence, maturity and confidence will be one of the best gifts you can give them.