As parents, our ultimate goal is to raise our children to grow to be happy, responsible adults. Of course, we want many things for them, and we’re sure we could make a very long list. But ultimately, we want them to be well-rounded individuals who are responsible and independent.
But how do we get from here to there? When they struggle with a task, when should we step in? When should we step back? Throughout the following two blogs, we will discuss exactly that.
Stepping back and watching your child struggle can be challenging but essential to their development. Here are five times you should step back and let your child lead.
When Your Child is Playing Sports
Sports give so much to children. It teaches them teamwork, responsibility, and problem-solving skills. As parents, we teach them about showing respect and playing fair on the field, so we should also exemplify that off the field. Arguing with the referee or umpire only shows them that it’s ok to disrespect others if you disagree with their choices.
Similarly, we need to respect the boundaries of coaches. It’s unnecessary to bombard them with questions about your child’s playing time or, even worse, question their coaching choices. Being involved in sports gives your child much opportunity to grow and learn, and it’s something that will happen without your direct involvement.
In a Washington Post article, author Nancy Star suggests that parents should allow their children to initiate conversation when it comes to sports. When our children lose a game or play poorly, it is natural for us to want to console them. But as Nancy advocates, by allowing them the opportunity for silence, we provide space for them to think and talk.
When Your Child Has Friend/Classmate Issues
We’ve all been there. Our kids get home from school, and the first words out of their mouths are, “So and so was being mean to me today.” Your initial reaction may be to console your child, call the teacher, and make this mean kid apologize.
But before we try to solve this problem for them, let’s discuss more with our child. You may need to guide them a bit on appropriateness, but take a step back and let them lead the conversation. When we, as parents, jump in and attempt to solve the problem or dictate a solution, we take away a valuable learning experience.
First, ask them to explain what happened. Listen without judging. When they are finished, validate their feelings. Then ask what they think would be a solution to resolving whatever the issue may be. Once they have come to an appropriate solution (with your limited guidance), encourage them to follow through with it the next day.
This encourages them to problem solve and find ways to resolve conflicts with peers. Such vital skills for our kids to learn!
When Your Child Doesn’t Get the Results You Want
Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we have some expectations for our children and their achievement. And it can be hard when they aren’t getting the results we envisioned. We’ve all heard stories about parents asking teachers to change grades. Or parents demanding their child be allowed on a team when they did not earn a spot. While acknowledging the difficulty of those events, it is crucial also to recognize success comes in many forms. If our children love learning, we can celebrate that. We can celebrate if our children love art or learning through outdoor activities.
When Your Child is Bored
It’s almost summer. The days can be long, and the number of times kids say “I’m bored!” can be plenty. Structured school days have many benefits, and so does planning summer activities. But when parents step back from planning activities to keep their kids busy, unstructured play can help them develop a different set of essential skills and relationships.
When children are given the ability to be bored outdoors, they flourish. Giving them time and space to explore nature allows them to develop in a sensory-rich environment.
When Your Child Gets in Trouble at School
Children get in trouble at school from time to time. As humans, they will make mistakes. And when they make mistakes, they learn that their choices have consequences. It is essential that parents and teachers act as partners when it happens. Both parents and teachers want the best for their children and students, and when parents support teachers, it only helps the child do better academically and socially.
As parents, it is easy and natural to want to protect them and to want to solve their problems for them. It’s natural to want things to be easy for them. But as inherent as those feelings may be, protecting them from problem-solving inhibits their creativity, growth, and independence. By stepping back and allowing them to lead, we provide them with the opportunity to learn to become those well-rounded, independent adults we so want them to be.