Self Reliance & the Challenge For Parents

confident martial arts childSelf reliance and resiliency go hand in hand. Instilling this sense of self reliance in our children requires that we know when to step in and when to step back. We want to build the independence and encourage our children to explore without fear of failing, but at the same time not push them too fast for where they are developmentally. This is quite a balancing act and as a parent or teacher we will get it right sometimes and we will make some mistakes along the way also.

The challenge for the parents is being able to watch our children struggle with a task without stepping in, taking over, and being overly involved, to the point of not allowing them to develop resiliency and self reliance. When they do succeed – on their own – they gain confidence and learn that they can do it by themselves.  If we step in too soon, too often, we risk their ability to learn these beliefs about themselves.  Research is showing that over involved parenting may lead to higher levels of depression and anxiety in children and teens.

I believe sometimes the term “we are building self esteem” is not accurate. Is it us as parents building self esteem, or are we allowing them to grow and thrive?   Their faith in themselves to be able to achieve and do things, even if they fail in the beginning multiple times, comes from parents allowing the failure to take place, encouraging them with our belief in them and their abilities, coaching (but not doing for) them and celebrating the small incremental improvements.   Parents and teachers will want to help students learn to have positive self talk – telling themselves – “I can do it” for the times that others are not around to encourage them to press on.

Our children have a need for autonomy and this need grows as they get older. We can create opportunities for them to believe in themselves and become independent over time, as they grow into confident, resilient, self reliant young adults.