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Autonomy Dangers?: Why Kids Need to be More Independent | The Family Podcast Network



Apr 02

Autonomy Dangers?: Why Kids Need to be More Independent

We've all heard our grandparents, parents or even heck, our stories of how we were allowed to do so much more when we were younger. How Grandma Jane used to walk 32 miles by herself to go get her favorite candy from the general store. Or maybe it was how your dad was driving by 2 and picking up his own formula from the market. 

Was this one of your grandparents walking uphill in the snow both way?

Was this one of your grandparents walking uphill to school in the snow both ways?

Ok, well, that may be a little extreme, but it seems as if now a days we do all but require our kids to walk around in full body armor with helmets on! And I've even seen the kids with the helmets! Yikes! It seems like it is such in contrast to how we raise our kids. We want them to be able to sleep on their own starting from day one, be in daycare away from us 10 hours a day by 6 weeks, school by 5, out the door by 18 or highschool graduation, which ever comes first, and completely self sufficient by 21. However, we won't let them fix their own bowl of cereal, pick out their own clothes, brush their own hair or set their own curfews....What's wrong with this picture!?

It is as if us parents are terrified of our children growing up but yet are telling them to grow up!

Well it's time to stop. It's time to be logical. It's time to let our kids begin becoming autonomous. It's time to find out why kids need to be more independent.

Bullying is a big deal topic. You hear about it everyday. Something tragic seems to be happening way to often. It's awful. However, there has always been bullies and there will always be bullies. They range in age generally from 1 year to about 110. We will always encounter them. It just seems in adulthood they are often referred to as 'aggressive' or 'go getters.' So what does autonomy have to do with bullies? A lot. When we encourage our children to be more independent. When we encourage them to make mistakes and then not crucify them when they do. When we encourage our children to make their own choices on things that matter, such as maybe bedtime or curfew. When we do these things we are building.....confidence. Confidence that mistakes happen, but can be corrected. Confidence that they can make the right choice! Circling back to bullying, when one is bullied that is confident, often they will stand up. I'm not talking about throwing punches or anything that extreme, but just having to confidence to say 'NO! That is not ok!'

When we hover over our children and become the often referred to as 'helicopter mom/dad' all we are teaching our kids is that they are incapable of making good choices and therefore we do not trust them as parents.

We are also telling them we will run to their rescue anytime they break a nail or stub a toe. You may be saying 'No I'm not! I'm just being a good parent and protecting my child!' And yes, a good parent does protect their child, but when you never allow a child to make mistakes, hurt themselves, have successes that you were not responsible for their self confidence soars! You will not find an unkind, mean or over controlling individual with high self confidence. They are the ones with low self confidence and massive fears of failure. They often use their anger to hide their ineptitude.

So to move off bullies. Encouraging our children to be more independent will encourage them to try new things often expanding their knowledge, intelligence and quite possibly expanding the probability of success in adulthood. I can promise you most Olympic athletes had to get hurt a few times before perfecting their ability.

 I used to ride horses every day. I rode english and loved to jump and ride dressage. I also rode western pleasure and trail. At one point in time I was quite competitive. I used to show and train and, well I just loved it. I remember my step-grandfather who was at one point in time quite a renowned trainer on the West Coast once telling me that you know you are becoming a better horseman when you fall off. That always seemed so stupid to me. I hated falling off. It hurt. horseThe only broken bones that I have ever sustained have been from falling off. Ouch. But it was later that I understood that if you were falling off, quite possibly it was because you were expanding your abilities. Maybe you were pushing yourself harder and going over that taller jump. Or you were challenging you and your horse and, well, sometimes challenged horses get just as frustrated as people but they often buck when frustrated which often means your butt is on the ground. But you get the idea. A good horseman just means one who is willing to grow.

We want our children to grow. Not too fast, but just fast enough.

We, or at least I know I, don't want my child to be apart of this 'teacup generation' that is overtaking the young adults. I don't want my child to feel like a 99% but instead strive to work hard for what they earn and not sit there with their hands out waiting for a morsel. I want them to be striving to bake a whole darn cake! No crumbs for them.

I want my kids to make mistakes and then learn from them. Now I'm not going to give them a scalpel and tell them to attempt surgery, but I do allow my 5 year old to cut his own apple if he wants to. Has he gotten cut before? Yeah, he has. But I still cut myself sometimes and I'm in my 30's! I want my kids to learn logical consequences and also learn practical achievements. I want them to succeed by their own hands and not mine. What good will that do them?

We are an overprotective society. Yes there are bad guys. There always have been and there always will be. But if we don't teach our children how to say no to those things they don't want and to strive and work hard for the things they do, than what good are we as a parent? 

I encourage you to take a step back from your kids and watch. What are they so badly wanting to do on their own that you keep on sticking your finger into the mix? Are they babies and trying to walk and you keep on catching them every time they stumble? Are they toddlers that want to wipe their own bottoms after going potty? Are they preschoolers that want to pour their own cereal at breakfast? Are they tweens who are wanting to stay up late texting to their friends? Are they teens wanting to set their own curfew? Why do we feel the need to regulate and help with all these areas?

No wonder so many kids are the way they are today. We have made them be babies until we send them out into the world and then scream at them to 'GROW UP!'


Your kids were meant to grow. 

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