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Zaid Mohamad

ONE of the most important goals of parenting is to create children who are independent and able to manage themselves with minimum supervision. As we are fast approaching our 62nd National Day, let’s take a moment to reflect if we have truly created independent children.

First and foremost, are we guilty of “trapping” our kids with any shackles? The shackles can come in many forms – from overly protective and controlling parents to highly dependent children. Let’s take a look at how we can set them free from the shackles that may limit their true potential.

One of the reasons why parents overprotect their children is because they think that their children are simply too young and vulnerable. These parents assume that their children are unable to function on their own. They don’t realise that this is a wasted opportunity to train up their children to become independent.

To make matters worse, they will be sending wrong signals to their children; that the latter aren’t capable enough of doing on their own. This will inevitably lead to poor self-esteem and low levels of creative and critical thinking. These are critical skills that people need to lead fulfilling and successful lives.

TRAINING OUR YOUNG

So what can we do to prepare our children to face the challenges that lie ahead? There are plenty of smart and easy methods to train our children to become independent. You can start by assigning them a specific chore at home. By doing so, we are actively training them to assume some responsibilities in life. Don’t forget to praise them for jobs well done.

There are plenty of things that your children can do around the house. Even if you have domestic helpers, children must still be able to do basic personal chores themselves. These include making their beds, washing their school shoes and doing the dishes. Besides those, each child should have his or her own little duty to help around the house. For example, one person can be tasked to set the table before every meal, while the other can clear the table after meals. One person can be given the duty of taking out the garbage every night while another could be in charge of watering the plants.

It’s a rule in our home for all of us to wash our own utensils after each meal. We enforce this because we strongly believe that parents must walk the talk; they must be good examples to their children. Hence, it’s a common sight in our kitchen to see my children and I lining up for our turn at the kitchen sink!

At the same time, children must also be held accountable for their mistakes. Don’t shield them from responsibilities out of pity because they will not learn to face the consequences of their actions. Resist the temptation to over-rationalise their actions or inaction, by making excuses that they are just small children.

At the end of the day, training our children to be independent and responsible are among the best things we can possibly do for them. Some may see it as “cruel” or “harsh” for little children to struggle in picking up their toys or washing their shoes but in the long term, these chores will do wonders for their attitude. Otherwise, they will be too pampered and may think that life is a bed of roses – only to be shocked when they leave the security of their home. The earlier they realise this, the higher their chances of living a happier life.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at [email protected].

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