“There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.” Hodding Carter
Sounds so beautiful, doesn’t it? But what exactly does it mean? I found this beautiful interpretation by Dr. Laura Markham that says as parents we must provide a strong foundation or anchor to our kids so that they feel emotionally secure, and therefore feel confident enough to spread their wings [be independent].
Now ‘independence’ in kids is often misconstrued.
To digress a little, I remember my conversation with a friend. She had gone back to work as soon as her baby was 3 months of age. She said if she ever felt that her son [now 7 years old] needed her, she would have happily chosen to stay at home to be around him. In her opinion she had made her son ‘independent’ early [read not dependent on the parents], which also does not mean he is able to accomplish his own basic tasks.
After reading extensively on the internet, I am convinced that we must not confuse ‘independence’ with the ease with which a young kid separates from his parent/s. There are two important takeaways from the article I referenced:
a. Re-defining independence as being able to meet the age-appropriate developmental tasks required of kids as they grow up. For example, if a 10 month old baby is indifferent about his mother, that is unnatural and certainly not independence.
b. Meeting their emotional needs; and allowing their natural assertiveness to blossom by giving them control over the aspects of their life where that’s appropriate.
I will take a leaf out of own life. Just yesterday, my 2-year-old son, expressed his desire to do everything on his own – so right from brushing his teeth to bathing, from dressing up himself to applying his lotion, from having his lunch [of daal rice] to putting the plate into the sink, he accomplished everything [with minimum help from Mumma]. It certainly took much longer to finish those chores and it definitely ended up being messier. But it was an incredible feeling, for me as well as for him. His pride was apparent in being able to accomplish those mundane daily tasks which as grownups we don’t pay much heed to; but for a toddler, it was a major boost to his confidence.
By fulfilling their emotional needs, we aren’t raising needy kids. On the contrary, we are providing stability and nourishment to them. If they don’t find that fulfillment from their parents, they would look for it outside of home, and that is where most troubles start. Providing support does not mean encouraging dependency. If we are creating emotionally ‘dependent’ children, we are doing something wrong. Moreover, children must be encouraged to take age-appropriate responsibilities, which give them confidence to ‘spread their wings’ when the time comes.
There are a few things which we can do to develop confidence and encourage independence in kids:
- We must empower kids from an early age by offering them opportunities to choose.
- Kids must be encouraged to do age-appropriate tasks around the house from an early age [we have been following this for forever now – from keeping his toys back into their boxes to helping Mumma wash/dry clothes, from watering plants to doing his own chores; we encourage our little one to do whatever he wants to, as much as possible].
- Let them explore. Do not stop your kids to try new things owing to your own experiences. To quote Rabindranath Tagore: “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time”.
- Help them in finding their own passion, which develops a sense of purpose in life.
Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writer, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Communication Professional. She spends her days running after her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life