The truth is that as much as we might want it, it’s not easy for us as parents to let our children become independent. Here we’ve spent years being the rock that they lean on, and so when the time comes for them to move out and experience the world on their own it naturally becomes stressful for both parent and child.
It might sound crazy, but structured activities actually help to ease the transition to independence! Think of it like building a skyscraper – you have to build a scaffold that will hold the building up, something that’s got a lot of structure and security, before you let it stand on it’s own.
With structured activities kids are able to venture out into situations which are separate from their parents while still feeling that familiar support. In addition, the clear boundaries and structure provided by activities reinforce that comfort. Structured activities are supportive for child development because they allow kids to explore new activities while still feeling safe and secure.
Parenting for independence is created by offering a supportive parenting style. What kind of structured activity it is is far less important than it being something that involves closely supervised adult support. Sports, dance, clubs, religious groups, theatre, scouting, it’s all good. It’s important that your child spend time away from you or the school environment, allowing your child to not only venture out on their own, but also to continue to feel that scaffolding of adult interaction.
Essentially we’re giving them room to have success in a new environment while still providing for the failures and insecurities that they might experience. In truth it’s the moments in which they do have disappointment, rejection and loss that are actually most beneficial in supporting kid’s independence. What they soon discover is that they are able to deal with negative situations in addition to positive situations, holding their own and thereby giving them strength and a sense of accomplishment.
Find activities in your area that can help develop independence by clicking here.