My oldest is in kindergarten. I believe I’ve said it before, Kindergarten has been a BIG adjustment for all of us. One of these adjustments has been my daughter’s need for independence and decision-making. At first, as I write this, I think of course a parent would embrace this. However, her attempts at independence has been less than desirable.
The pull for independence continues throughout childhood. It starts with those first few precious steps, continues into toddlerhood and goes on to adulthood. Often times lack of maturity has children pulling for independence in challenging ways. For example, I’ll listen to you but will choose when I will follow through with your request. This causes some extra chaos and reminders from mom as the little one wants desperately to be in control of her decisions.
The example above is what we’re dealing with right now. She knows what she’s suppose to do, she just isn’t ready to do it. This has manifested itself with extreme slowness getting ready to go to school or at school picking up her toys only after playing for a few more minutes.
Independence will be very important life skill for her to learn and master. She must learn to think independently to not be pressured into unsafe situations. She must learn to assert her independence appropriately in her future career. It is my job to help develop her growth. My responses to her independence will either help or hinder that growth.
I say, embrace this independent streak and don’t be in too big of a hurry to squash it in hopes of a compliant child. Don’t get me wrong, discipline should follow when she’s being defiant. However, be kind. Give your child choices when she can have them. Let her make some decisions for herself. Be upfront. In our case, getting out the door and to school on time is not negotiable. So, I put consequences in place for her not listening and getting dressed on time. However, I don’t really care what shoes she wears. So, she can pick out her shoes every morning. And if she gets ready timely, she has an extra reward of watching some television before we leave. I expect her to listen to her teacher at school and come home with a good daily report. I do let her have some time in the evening where she decides what she will do.
Embrace the independence, set realistic expectations, and appropriate discipline and your house will be a happier one!
Do you have a child going through an independent growth? Please share your stories! I’d love to hear how you handle them.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old and he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ASV