As a parent, ever wonder what it would be like to raise a child who has the ability to grow up to handle life responsibly, one who can act quickly and decisively when a situation calls for it.  It takes work for parents to generate this kind of responsibility in their children, and parents really do have to know what they’re doing if they want to achieve these results.  However, according to school psychologist and author Barbara Minton by learning how to raise children who are prepared to face the difficulties life has to offer, who can make quick decisions, and then act on those decisions appropriately, a parent can help to build confidence in their children, and enable them to handle difficult situations responsibly.

According to Minton, building confidence in their children is not automatic for parents.  Many parents tend to over-parent their children, which can be detrimental to a child’s health.  As parents, we tend to find ourselves over-parenting our children in an attempt to protect them from painful experiences.  This might be based on the fact we, as parents, want a child to be happy and secure, so we try to shield them from any experiences they may find unpleasant or challenging.

In a family of over-parenting, the child is treated as the center of the universe, with all family activities revolving around him or her.  The parents allow the child to do whatever the child wants because telling him or her “no” might be an unpleasant experience for them.  The parents believe their child needs their continuous protection and vigilance because the world is a very difficult place to operate in.

Over-parenting takes place when mom or dad makes all the decisions for their children.  Choosing their children’s clothes, friends, and playtime are attributes of the over-parenting parent.  Over-parenters believe their children must be constantly indulged in order to grow up to be balanced, successful adults.

Over-parenting results when mom and dad solve their child’s problems rather than giving the child the chance to overcome their own problems.  It occurs when parents allow their children to avoid legitimately challenging situations so they are not inconvenienced and so they do not experience discomfort.  It can also occur when too much control or too much order is imposed on a child by the parent.

Over-parenting involves families of all socio-economic strata.  It is often seen in families that have experienced their own sense of trauma.

The over-parented child is often viewed as a spoiled brat.  They lack confidence and are often afraid to make decisions on their own or take risks.  They avoid new situations and hide behind their parents when challenges arise, because they have been conditioned into believing that their parents are the only ones who can make proper decisions.

In order to stop over-parenting their children, Minton says a mother or father must first achieve their own level of self-confidence.  They must learn to allow their children to make their own decisions, to use their spare time in their own way, to live life without mom and dad niggling in their ears, and to express a certain trust of the world and a confidence that everything will be okay.  When a parent exhibits a strong level of confidence, their children too will learn to be confident.

A parent could begin by pulling back on their over-monitoring.  Allow your children to walk to school on rainy days, or to get going in the morning without mom’s or dad’s assistance.  When the kids are faced with a difficult challenge, help them with ideas on how to deal with the challenge rather than allowing them to escape it altogether.  Help the child develop a strong, tough attitude toward fighting through problems.

Minton also says a parent can cut back on spending lavishly on material possessions for their children.  It’s our money, and a child must learn that we are allowed to spend our money as we please.  They must understand that our goal for them is to finish school in as strong a manner as possible, and to become financially independent, so one day they too will have the freedom to do what they want with their money.

A good way to help the child to earn value is by giving them jobs to do.  Chores help kids to build confidence.  They also provide the kids with spending money and a sense of empowerment.

The most successful parents are those who teach and support rather than protect and compensate when a child’s challenges come to light.  The stronger the confidence a parent can display in their child’s ability to cope and deal with the world around them, the more confidence the child will gain.  It’s important to learn how to discern when your child needs your help, rather then just jumping in right from the start, every time.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the school psychologist says the model a parent provides for their child is as important as the wisdom they dispense.  When a parent acts in a positive, decisive, confident manner in his or her own affairs, the child will surely follow suit.  However, there is a fine line to be toed here, one between fostering greater child independence, and placing too much responsibility on a child.

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