Children who yield to every command are less likely to be aware of their own needs and may have trouble asserting themselves, which can make them vulnerable to exploitation as they get older. It's important to find a balance early on.
For parents who wish to encourage independent thinking in their kids, the challenge is to know when to force your way and when to let your child follow his or her own plan. Here are some ways to let your children call the shots.
• Weekend dinner
Leave a weekend dinner unplanned and let your child decide what will be on the menu. Shop for the ingredients together and prepare the meal as a family.
• What to wear
From toddlers to teens, letting children choose their own clothes is a must in terms of developing self-determination and identity. You may be the arbiter of what comes into your home (after all, it is your responsibility to explain what is decent and acceptable), but once something is in your kids' closet, it behooves you to just let them decide what to put on and when (with the exception of weddings and funerals).
From an early age, children know who they like to spend time with. Don't force your child to play with someone he or she dislikes.
Let children choose which sports they'd like to enroll in. And if they don't want to join a league, relax: younger children can stay active by enjoying the playground or a relaxed game of catch.
Page 1 of 2Although it is important to give your child some independence, there are times when you need to pull rank. Parents are the commanders in chief of the battalion known as your family. When safety, fair play, and decency are in play, you will need to insist that your deadlines are non-negotiable. However, the good news is that the more opportunities your children have to make their own choices, the less likely they are to resist your authority when you do have to put your foot down.
From normal power struggles to oppositional behaviour
If your child's behaviour is more difficult than that of others in his or her age group and it is affecting your family, or your child's social or academic life, your child may be exhibiting signs of a controversial clinical condition called oppositional defiant disorder. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry advises that you seek advice from your doctor if your child exhibits four or more of the following traits:
• frequent temper tantrums
• argues excessively with adults
• displays active defiance and refuses to comply with any adult requests or rules
• seems to deliberately annoy or upset people
• blames others for their mistakes or misbehaviour
• is touchy and easily annoyed by others
• is frequently angry and resentful
• says mean and hurtful things when upset
• seeks revenge
Remember also, that kids of all ages can have bad days, just like we do. Kids who are temporarily stressed out, tired or hungry are bound to be cranky. Sometimes, all your child needs is to be left alone to chill.
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