News Herald – Juliann Talkington
We all want our kids to be happy, thriving, independent adults. The challenge is how to get them from the highly needy infant stage to the point where they can successfully handle life on their own. There is a lot to teach and the world is changing rapidly, so it is important to start the process when children are young.
Fortunately, there are a few simple things parents can do to make the process easier.
Teach the basics.
Diet is important for overall health and wellbeing. Everyone needs to know how to prepare healthy meals and to understand the role exercise plays in quality of life. In addition, young people need to understand the basics of household finance – specifically that income needs to be more than expenses. And everyone needs to have some way to get from place to place, so it is important for kids to learn how to drive.
Children need to do things on their own so they can become independent and self reliant, characteristics needed for adulthood. When parents do things that kids can manage themselves, it can foster low self-esteem and lead to poor decisions.
It is better for a child to make “wrong choices” early in life when the stakes are low rather than to wait until he/she is older and the stakes can be life altering. Offering simple options when a child is very young, prepares him/her for the more complicated decisions he/she will have to make when he/she is older.
When your child makes a poor decision it is important for you to allow him/her to deal with the consequences. This way he/she understands that there are negative consequences from making poor choices. Remember, the lessons that stick with us are the ones where we have to deal with the fallout from bad choices.
Encourage problem solving.
There are few textbook solutions in life. Without practice, children become overwhelmed when they are presented with problems they have not encountered before. As a result, it is imperative for children to learn how to think through a problem, come up with possible solutions, and move forward with the best approach. Parents can help children through the process by asking questions, but should resist the urge to provide answers.
If parents take these simple steps and gradually prepare their kids for adulthood, the transition from home to the “real world” should be fairly seamless.