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The world can be quite an intimidating place, and it’s natural to want to shield our children from it. However, you can easily reach a tipping point of being overprotective and stepping into problem solve rather than teaching the essential skills your child needs to become a healthy, emotionally balanced adult. Our role as parents can sometimes get reduced in the rush of family life to someone who enforces teeth brushing, broccoli and bedtime, but we need to do more than that – we must pass on a little knowledge of the world and prepare the next generation for the challenges of adulthood, whatever life throws at them.
Prioritize Your Health
How many of us ignore our own health and wellbeing when we get especially busy? We gloss over that irritating cough, push aside the persistent backache and muddle along. But by doing so, we are also teaching our children that their own health is an inconvenience. If we don’t have good health in life, it can be very limiting – there’s a reason for the saying ‘health is wealth’. Get your children into the habit of self-care, from regular visits to the dentist with them to teach them to gauge their energy levels and ask for a timeout when they’re feeling burnt out. Lead by example by making sure your health is looked after.
Instead of dictating, involve your children in the cooking and food decisions. From growing vegetables in the garden or a window box to discussing the weekly menu with them in the store and finding some simple recipes to cook with children to make together, show them that what we eat affects our health. You’ll find this approach usually makes them less fussy as well!
Many of us are slow to talk about money with our kids, thinking it may alert them to adult concerns too early. But involving your kids in some aspects of personal budget and financing is hugely beneficial. Teaching them how to make a budget, about spending choices and saving, gets them used to taking responsibility for money and how to spend it.
Something that will stand your children in good stead throughout life in many different situations is having great communication skills – it can affect everything from the jobs they are likely to get to the relationships they build. Encouraging them to speak and ask questions – whether with adults or other children – will help them get used to navigating these relationships. It all starts with you giving them the tools to verbally express themselves by prompting them gently.
Independence can feel scary and problematic at times, but it is definitely something we need to allow our children to have, in proportion. Instead of stepping in to fix every situation, we have to learn to view problems as creative opportunities which allow our kids to develop their problem-solving skills. Again, the key lies in being able to ask the right questions to encourage them towards a solution rather than fixing everything. Ask them what they could do to solve the situation – you may be surprised by the creativity of their answers!