Raising Independent Children
Vol. 17 No. 10
Summer vacation is a time for adventures, mental relaxation, and play. Remember how exciting summer vacation was when you were a kid?
The last day of school was always a bittersweet celebration, followed by weeks of exploring your neighborhood. You knew all the shortcuts to the corner market, the best places for hide-and-seek and hiding away with a good book, and the most inviting spaces for wasting whole afternoons.
Your parents trusted that you would be home by dinner, often with muddy knees and touseled hair, without so much as a second thought about any mischief you might stir up. Times were different.
Nowadays, parents make headlines for allowing their children to walk home from school alone or play in the park without supervision. Parents are frightened. Society has led the current generation of moms and dads to believe that if they’re not watching over their child's every move, they’re neglectful.
This new thinking could be damaging to our children.
Many students are not empowered to be independent thinkers—and this impacts both their personal lives and educational careers. Although school mission statements include that they develop generations of independent thinkers, students often don’t learn or apply these skills away from campus. New research shows that overprotecting children can impact confidence, decision-making skills, and overall mental health.
Help combat this mindset by encouraging your parents to dive into some summer reading for themselves. NPR published an article about the popular book Becoming Brilliant. It discusses the importance of developing students' skills in collaboration, communication, using creative skills, and taking risks—both academically and in their life choices. However, risks can’t be taken without confidence, and confidence is learned at a young age through independent thinking.
Along with suggesting summer reading, consider these tips for your families as they prepare for camps, vacations, sporting games, and endless summer activities.
- Change should not happen radically. It must be a slow progression of adding responsibilities to a child’s task list (other than school work), such as chores around the house or errands.
- Set clear boundaries and rules to establish accountability. Make punishments known and stand firm when they need to be implemented.
- Communicate about everything! Have a policy at home that encourages open conversations. Discuss the house rules and expectations often. Talk about what fears you have as a parent (abduction, injury, etc.) and what concerns your kids have with increased life responsibilities. Discuss freedoms, obligations, and lessons learned from daily events.
- Allow time for play and exploring. Kids learn through discovery—grant them the freedom needed.
With parents more confident in their children’s ability to make independent choices, your school’s mission to create self-sufficient, world-ready graduates can be truly achieved.
Students need freedom in their choices and confidence in their independence for the lessons learned in the classroom to have the most impact.
Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 15 No. 8 The Importance of Positive Parent-Teacher Relationships
The Source for Advancement Vol. 16 No. 3 The Three C’s of Parent Communication
Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 40 No. 9 Marketing Communications and the Parent
I&P Vol. 31 No. 6 Your Parent Education Plan: Predictability and Support