The day our children are born is quite possibly one of the happiest days of our lives. We vow to protect them and keep them safe at all costs. But sometimes, our efforts actually backfire and hold our children back from growing into independent people. Teaching kids how to be self-sufficient is incredibly important, but it’s also a huge challenge for many. May we all become more aware of these so our kids can learn self-advocacy and grow up to be independent, successful adults.
Please stop doing homework for your kids
This happens across all age groups. While you stepping in on homework assignments might get them credit and even a good grade for the assignment, students won’t learn and retain the information. Students need to figure things out on their own, which means they need to decipher what is difficult and what may need more attention.
It’s okay for homework to be challenging. Yes, they can ask you a question, or you might steer them in the right direction. But if they are having trouble, have them reach out to their teacher directly.
Please stop giving young children access to social media
Social media comes with a host of dangers that we too often forget, and much of it carries over into school. This makes children anxious and uncomfortable during the day, which interrupts learning.
Please stop getting involved in youth squabbles
We, teachers, see this far too often. Parents want to step in and interfere with disagreements or arguments that are pretty petty. Don’t get involved.
Use these as an opportunity to teach your child the skills necessary to cope with these differences among each other and to effectively speak up for themselves, both of which are essential in teaching kids how to be self-sufficient.
Please stop packing their backpacks and lunches
Sure, you can help prepare a lunch or remind them of items they need for the day, but then get them involved. Include them in the choice and packing process. Children as young as kindergarten are capable of being a helper, which increases their confidence long term.
Please stop giving young kids cell phones
A cell phone requires a great deal of responsibility that a young child may not be capable of handling. Plus, they don’t really need it. If they are in school, there are ample ways for them to contact you in an emergency.
This provides them with the opportunity to figure out possible solutions to contact you on their own. Relying on immediate attention from a very young age teaches children to lose patience when they are not immediately gratified.
Please stop underestimating kids’ capabilities
I can recall a time when my daughter was 3 or 4 years old and her favorite phrase was “Mommy, I do myself!” I celebrated her desire for independence and helped her to do it by herself. This has resulted in a very independent and confident young woman who is now going off to college. Children from a very young age have the desire to “do what you are doing” to assert their independence.
So let’s not forget these as they get older. Let’s teach them how to be self-sufficient by allowing them to take on age-appropriate tasks and challenges so they can keep developing. Even when we find ourselves wanting to hold on tighter as they’re getting older, we still need to let them try things.
Please stop catering to their every whim
This teaches children that if they don’t like something, we can change it or they don’t have to do it. It also gives kids an unrealistic view of the world. We all experience things that we don’t like or want to do, but understanding the reality that we have to do it helps us to get through without issue.
Please stop speaking for your kids when they can speak for themselves
Want an easy way to teach kids how to be self-sufficient? Allow them to advocate for themselves. It can be as simple as letting kids order for themselves at a restaurant or emailing their teacher first when they have a question or concern. Not only does this teach them effective communication, but it also empowers them to make a choice and speak for themselves.
Also, don’t ask the teacher to make an exception and accept late assignments (unless there is a really serious reason). This behavior does not teach a child the importance of deadlines.
Please stop contacting higher-ups on behalf of your child
This builds on the last one, but we teachers beg you to stop contacting the principal, department chair, superintendent, or school board over something that should have been brought to the teacher’s attention first. Teachers need you to make them part of the equation. If possible, the conversation should start with your child.
You can step in, as needed, as a parent. But please start with the teacher first.
Please stop rushing to call the teacher for your child
This is the last one related to communication between you, your child, and their teacher. Please give your child an opportunity to communicate with the teacher themselves and have them develop the confidence to know that they can solve a problem or question on their own. Also, before writing an email to your child’s teacher, have the child proofread it.
I have found more often than not that a student has no idea that the parent even reached out to a teacher, and it is important for them to be an integral part of the process.