Today’s parents are overly focused on keeping their children safe—safe from both perceived and real dangers. Hence many moms hover over and around their kids, morphing into “helicopter parents.” But to raise children with healthy self-esteem and to equip them for adulthood, parents should be focused on rearing self-reliant kids.
“We live in a world that warns us of danger at every turn. The ‘safety first’ preoccupation enforces our fear of losing our kids, so we do everything we can to protect them. … We have insulated them from healthy risk-taking behavior and it’s had an adverse effect,” says Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders. “Kids need to fall a few times to learn it’s normal. If parents remove risk from children’s lives, we will likely experience a loss of self-reliance, high arrogance and low self-esteem in our growing leaders.”
Our children are more capable than we realize, and learning life skills—from household chores to financial knowledge to personal safety—are essential to helping kids become independent, develop healthy self-esteem and be resilient. “Of course how much we should loosen the reigns does vary considerably by age. And there is a difference between learning a valuable lesson and genuinely getting injured,” said Jeff Campbell, a father of three who blogs about parenting and personal finance.
It’s important to note that all kids need to have a chance at developing independence, including kids with disabilities. “Children with disabilities can also be taught independent skills according to their ability level, it just may take more time to reinforce the habit. Encouraging your child to take care of their things and be respectful of others will go a long way to reinforce self-reliance to the best of their ability,” noted Dr. Angela Grace, a registered psychologist and mom of two tweens.