The paradox of parenting young children – building resilience and independence

Paradox – a seemingly contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well-founded or true. (Oxford Dictionary) 

These days, it isn’t hard to argue that we, parents, have reached a point where we molly-coddle our children too much. Admittedly sometimes, how can we not? As a mother, I understand that our children are our world! 

We want to do everything for them – wash their hands, dress them from top to toe (including doing up their buttons), wash their dishes and fold their clothes, wipe their snotty, little noses (and bums!), clean their mess, etc. 

The list goes on, and before we know it, we’ve become their little servants. But here is something most of us don’t realise – children have the skills to do all these tasks and alike from age 2. That’s right, 2 years old. 

What’s more, as parents we aspire to lift our children to the top and protect them from a world that we know sometimes can be a bit cruel. We “freakout” when they have hurt themselves getting involved in some “risky” play so we try to limit and control what they can do with or without supervision.

However, the stress from our little one possibly hurting themselves, and risky play are key components in building a resilient child who can execute healthy coping mechanisms to manage pain and stress factors. Therefore, it must be brought to parents’ attention that overly-protective measures can cause more harm than good, affect our children’s confidence and interdependence. 

Building resilience and independence 

A resilient person is someone who is able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. At the same time independence, allows us to be capable of thinking or acting for ourselves. It is no surprise then why these two aspects of childhood education are so critical to develop in young children.  

With that in mind, here are some helpful strategies to implement in assisting your child in building resilience and independence skills:

–   Listen to your child and negotiate choices. This allows them to know that what they say matters and to give them control over themselves.

–   Let them choose their own clothes (as hideous as it might look!)

–   Encourage independent play. Let them know that you are nearby if needed.

–   Bring them into the kitchen and have them help with chopping food, pouring drinks and cracking eggs, etc.

–   Encourage them to assist you in all household chores such as sweeping, dusting, washing dishes, etc. Role modeling is remarkable and allows children to learn through observation alone.  

Our role as parents is to guide our children and prepare them for the world, even if it means we sometimes have to operate in the ‘uncomfortable.’ So I’d like to encourage you to let your little one jump in puddles, let ice cream melt all over their hands and faces, let them play in a mud pit, paint a masterpiece, and help with baking. 

The world is too complicated for anyone to give children a manual that will tell them how to deal with different situations. We learn about risk from the inside and learning to manage risk, different sorts of risks in different situations, is one of the most important life skills that happen in childhood.

Read more about parenting styles and optimal development in children.

This article was contributed by Jade, one of our wonderful educators & proud mum of her little Julian.

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