No One Wants To Raise a Wimpy Kid
As a parent your first instinct is often to try and protect your child from every potential danger. While it’s vital that your child be safe in this world, overprotecting them doesn’t prepare them for the realities of life as an adult. Your child needs to be ready to take on the world with proper emotional development, confidence and independence. That sounds like a daunting task but aiding in your child’s confidence from the very start provides a great foundation.
As an infant your child depends on you for his or her every need. They’re incapable of taking care of themselves and it’s perfectly natural to coddle them protectively. Running to them at the slightest fuss as they grow beyond the newborn stage can encourage a learned behavior in which they seek the wrong kinds of attention. It’s vital that you find a balance. At times children fuss for apparently no real reason at all and if you seize on every episode to comfort them they’ll sense your stress and it will heighten theirs. Take a breath, have a little patience and know that sometimes babies cry as a coping mechanism and not because something is terribly wrong.
Children develop quickly and before you know it they’re sitting up on their own, crawling and getting into trouble impossibly fast. As you work with your child to develop their cognitive thinking and fine motor skills you can also begin to build their confidence. Praise is vital for building confidence and even the smallest achievements need to be recognized at this stage. Even if your child doesn’t do a skill perfectly every time, encourage them to keep trying because that’s the only way they’ll learn to believe in themselves. It’s fine to demonstrate the solution but doing it for them every time doesn’t allow them to learn. Let them work to find solutions and don’t allow your frustrated energy to influence their behavior.
While you might not like the idea, there’s going to come a day when your child loudly announces that they’re perfectly capable of doing something all on their own. Whether it’s dressing themselves, feeding themselves or climbing the stairs, you’re going to hesitate and have doubts. Again, while it’s important that you keep your child’s safety in mind at all times, it’s vital that you know when to let go and take a step back.
Allowing your child to choose their own clothing and begin to learn how to dress themselves is a crucial first step toward independence. They’ll struggle with buttons, put pants on backward, wear mismatched socks and fumble with shoelaces but as long as you encourage and believe in them they’ll find their own confidence and independence. Another important trait that goes right along with confidence and independence is pride. When your child is proud of themselves they will have found a reward beyond measure. They know that you’re proud of them but it takes on a deeper meaning when they realize that they truly can do things on their own.
When your child reaches school age your worries will surely increase. They’ve had interaction with other children through story times, daycare and nursery school but kindergarten and beyond are entirely new challenges. Interacting daily with their peers reveals different aspects of life to your child and presents unfamiliar choices. The social atmosphere in school presents a unique dynamic; even the most confident child at home can become shy and reserved in school.
It’s extremely important at this point in their lives that your child knows they can always talk to you about anything. They’re going to have questions and face problems. When they know that they can depend on you for encouragement and guidance in the right direction they’ll be better prepared for whatever happens. They need to understand that they’re not alone and that you were in the same situations when you were a child. Sharing the truth that you were once just as small and confused as they are creates a bond that reinforces their own strength and independence. Through your early guidance they will have learned that while you may be their support system they are capable of functioning independent of you.
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