Here are 6 ideas to encourage autonomy in those kids of yours.
I mean, we all want independent kids (eventually), right?
I know I do.
1. Give them a choice.
Give them mountains of (inconsequential choices) on everything under the sun. Chocolate or vanilla? This blanket or that one? Red dress or pink dress? Bath before or after dinner? Get it? It’s good practice for making decisions that will have a bigger impact as they get older.
2. Be empathetic.
Being empathetic to the plight of children is harder as we age, isn’t it? You know many of their worries are small. But for that season – for that time – Jenny being ugly at recess feels like the end of the world. Just be with your child in that moment.
3. Don’t over ask.
You can be interested. Just don’t exasperate them. I got caught in this last week. My daughter wanted to sell something (similar to a lemonade stand) and I began asking questions about things she might not have considered. I think all I did was take the joy out of it.
4. Don’t over answer.
It’s ok to let them struggle with a problem or idea. To get my kids thinking, I often answer their questions with: “I’m not sure. What do you think about that?”
5. Encourage exploration.
If they have a question about building bridges and you know someone who is a civil engineer, encourage a conversation.
6. Keep hope alive.
Teach them resilience. Teach them grit. And don’t extinguish that gleam in their eye (like your parents probably did to you).
To Encourage Autonomy 1. Let children make choices. 2. Show respect for a child’s struggle. 3. Don’t ask too many questions. 4. Don’t rush to answer questions. 5. Encourage children to use sources outside the home. 6. Don’t take away hope.
-Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (Amazon)