“Every evening my 5 year-old threw a fit when it was time to pick up her room. After a while, I couldn’t stand seeing her cry any more and I just started cleaning the room myself.”
“It wasn’t unusual that my 11 year-old son would wait until the last minute to tell me he had a project due for school. Not wanting him to get a bad grade, I often finishing the project myself late at night.”
“My teenage daughter had the bad habit of spending all her allowance during the first half of the week. Then she didn’t have any money left to go out with her friends on the weekend. I didn’t want her to feel left out. So I gave her more every time.”
Can you identify with one of these statements?
Like most parents, you’re probably somewhat protective of your child. But there comes a time when a child must be able to make choices of their own. Are you preparing them to do so?
In order to help your child be successful, you must stop enabling them – unintentionally shielding them and encouraging irresponsible behavior. And instead, you must start empowering them – teaching them how to make good choices and become responsible adults.
How can you do that?
5 Tips to Stop Enabling
- Stop assuming they can’t do it. – If you have the mindset that your child can’t handle the task, you’ll constantly be on the lookout to jump in. Your child might be very young, but they’re not a baby any more.
- Stop fixing their problems. – When you take control of the situation yourself, you take the control away from your child. That, in turn, keeps them from 1) realizing they have a problem, and 2) getting the help they need to truly be successful.
- Stop shielding them from bad consequences. – Unless your child’s life is at risk, it’s best to let them see what happens when they make bad choices. Sometimes you just have to let things get bad.
- Stop holding back the tough love. – It isn’t easy, but at times you will have to show your child some tough love. Let them try to deal with their own problems. When things get tough, they might be more motivated to not simply count on you bailing them out.
- Stop feeling guilty. – You might benefit from growing a thicker skin. It’s tempting to feel guilty when you see your child struggle, but it’ll be worth it in the future.
5 Tips to Start Empowering
- Be a role model. – Show them by example how you make good decisions and take care of your own responsibilities. If they can see how you tackle a difficult task and not complain about your lot in life, you’ll empower them.
- Show confidence in them. – Let your child try new things without the fear that you’ll be nitpicking everything they do wrong. Instead, be reasonable with your expectations and either give them clear and specific instructions for the task, or obtain them (i.e. from a teacher).
- Allow them to make decisions. – Depending on their age and ability, let them make decisions about activities, food, or clothing. If they ask for help, lead them to an answer by process of reasoning.
- Help them learn from their mistakes. – Making mistakes is a significant part of learning. When things don’t go according to plan, teach them problem solving abilities and help them look for solutions instead of giving up.
- Communicate with them. – Pay attention when your child is talking to you. Stop what you’re doing and really listen to them. Commend them for their efforts. With that you’re sending a positive message that says “you are important to me” and that is empowering.