A friend of mine raised a very interesting conversation topic earlier this week: “Are kids today growing up in a ‘bubble wrapped, over-protective’ environment?”. Early childhood experts are having growing concerns that Australian parents and schools are being too soft on kids, resulting in a national culture that “every child gets a ribbon”. I often have concerns that I’m being too over-protective towards my kids. There is no problem with spoiling your kids but at the same time, it is also important to teach them how to act responsibly and be independent from a young age. Doing so will equip them with life skills in dealing with bigger life problems later on.
Take these 7 tips as starting points:
Start by assigning some accountability
Assign your child with age-appropriate chores that you know they’ll be able to handle. Even something as simple as helping to walk the family dog or washing the car during the weekend helps to build a sense of responsibility from a young age.
Whether or not you give your kids financial incentive in return is a decision you should discuss as a couple. Some parents do not like their kids to feel like their primary motive to do good deeds is to get money in return.
- Set a good example
As parents, it is important that we set good examples to our kids because you’ll be surprised how fast young kids picks up bad habits! I always remind my husband to remember to set a good example to our kids by clearing and cleaning the table after our family dinner and always remember to say “thank you” if someone did something nice for you.
- Guide them through solving life’s little problems
A child who learns to problem solves on their own early on in life has been shown to be more capable in solving the bigger problems in life later on. When you kids face a problem, talk them through it patiently. Instead of providing your kids with an immediate solution, ask them questions and encourage them to think through a problem in little steps.
- Teach them to think about the consequences and encourage empathy
My kids love playing the ‘blame game’ - “he made me do it. It wasn’t my fault!”. Instead of getting angry at your kids the next time they play the ‘blame game’, teach them to think about the consequences of their actions and encourage them to show empathy towards others. Ask them questions like “Do you think it’s the right thing to do to punch other kids for fun? Would you like it if they do the same to you?”.
- Learn through books and movies
If your kids enjoy reading or watching movies, there are lots of kids friendly materials out there with characters and story plot that illustrate responsibility and independence. The best part is that your kid will be able to identify with the character and situation easier because it’ll be enjoyable and saves you time from nagging them! Look up local libraries in your community to see if they run kids reading clubs.
- Do it in groups!
Sometimes it’s more effective for parents to step aside and let kids learn skills to be responsible and independent on their own. Look up age-appropriate volunteering opportunities in your local community or group activities such as community scouts for kids that not only teach young kids important life skills but also gives them a chance to do so with other kids of all different ages.
- Don’t put a negative spin on things
Although there’s growing emphasis on today’s kids growing up in an over-protective environment, it’s important not to take on the other end of the scale and scold at your kids every time they make a mistake. Doing so will only make your kids think that there’s no point for them to try and act responsible if they’ll just get into trouble for everything that they do. Remember to reward your kids at the right dosage and at the right time.
There are a lot of kids friendly activities that helps build important life skills that will benefit your kids for a lifetime. Head over to our kids activities directory for more inspirations.
Bec is a married stay at home mum who spends most of her time sorting out the chaotic lives of her two daughters, Jessica (7) and Tessa (3). When she’s not carefully coordinating her kids’ outfits, or addressing their notoriously complicated culinary requirements, she likes to share in the busy lives of other parents. After devouring mummy blogs for years, Bec decided to start blogging from her Cape Town home last year. She hopes her experiences will inspire other parents and help them feel less alone when things get tough.