Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Encouraging Independence

Last weekend Bean wanted to go on an adventure.  She occasionally likes to wander the neighborhood on what she calls neighborhood adventures.  Last weekend though she wanted to go on a big adventure, to walk to school and back.  Last year I read a book about Free Range parenting and this adventure to school was just what they were talking about.

As I sent Bean and Chicken out the door with a cell phone in Beans pocket, the mom fear was there, but I knew it was important to let them go.  As a parent sometimes the hardest thing is opening up the door to adventure and possibly failure for your kids.  The kids made it to the school, played some basketball and came home.  They were very proud of themselves, and after the fact I realized how silly I was to be worried at all, there are no major streets to cross and I had walked the route with the kids a few times.  The fears that I have are some times irrational, fed by media sensationalism, and sometimes legitimate.  The thing that is tough is being able to balance what the kids need in regards to encouraging independence with making sure they have all the tools they need for said independence.

You may ask what I mean by ensuring they have the skills to succeed.  Walking to and from school doesn't require tons of prep, do they know where they are going do, they know not to completely lose the plot when they got lost.  Bean can lose the plot pretty easy which is part of the reason we have slowly worked towards more independence, but without attempts like a walk to school she will never learn she has the skills to handle getting lost. There are other types of independence though, and some of those require a lot of skills training.  Knowing how to sew, cook and do laundry are key skills needed for independence and somehow we need to teach them all these skills without the house burning down, me loosing my mind, and the kids being able to get what they need.

So where are we with learning all these great skills?  The kids can use a cell phone mostly, they haven't burned the house down but can't cook too much, and Chicken is petrified of needles. We'll get there eventually, but knowing when to push the skills and the independence is all about the kid and what they need and can handle at the that time.

What are you doing to teach independence and get your kiddos the skills they need? How do you manage your mom fears when it comes to independence?

1 comment:

  1. I just had a talk with Lucas about independence the other day, and I think trust has a lot to do with it as well! And I don't know that I manage my mom fears, so much as ignore them and bite my tongue reallllllly hard when I give them a test of independence! You are a great mom, and I love reading all of your posts, very inspiring and down to earth.