With the growing push against helicopter parenting, many parents have embraced an opposite extreme called free-range parenting. No matter where you fall on the free range-helicopter continuum, parenting is hard and one of the biggest challenges is letting go of your kids as they get older. And though most parents agree it's a natural part of parenting, many miss out on clues that they should give their child some space. This could lead to coddled children or ones who don't have interest in exploring new things.
When I was younger, my parents operated under a "say yes" mentality. Although they certainly set boundaries for my brothers and I, they also gave us lots of freedom by telling us yes more often than no. Now that I'm an adult, I'm reaping the benefits of their more laid-back approach to parenting. I'm capable of making confident decisions and, aside from the occasional call to my dad when I have a problem with my car, I'm a self-sufficient, well adjusted adult.
Now that I'm a mom, I know that space doesn't come easily in the parent-child dynamic. But as each year passes, my children's need for me lessens and my role as mom evolves. I'm learning right along with every other mom out there that sometimes space is the best thing to can give your children.
It can be hard to know when the right time to give them space is though. Use these tips to better gauge your child's behavior and decide if the letting-go process has begun.
1. They Turn To You For Every Decision
When your children are young, you will be their main guide for decision making. But there are small ways we can teach kids to be good decision makers early on. According to an article published in the Huffington Post, giving your child small choices when they're young — like picking out a snack or their own outfit — will help them make bigger choices when they're older. If your child isn't able to make these small decisions without your help, start out slow and work your way to larger decisions.
2. They Can't Stand To Be Away From You
I'll say it again so that the point doesn't go unnoticed — giving your child space is a process. It's natural for toddlers to cling to their parents, but as your child grows though, they should be able to stand brief intervals without you. Start out small, if you have to. If your child truly suffers from separation anxiety, experts recommend developing a goodbye ritual to show your kid that you'll always come back no matter what.
3. They Push Away When You Embrace Them In Public
As much as it hurts as a parent, Bringing Up Kids noted that your child wanting to have some space is a good thing. In times like these, whether your child is two or 12, you should give it to them.
4. They Want More Alone Time
Some parents deal with their kids being the opposite of clingy. In an article for Parents, psychologist Michael Thomspon explained that, "every child needs to practice being independent, and every parent needs to practice letting her child be independent." If your child is already pushing to try things on their own, let them (within reason, of course).
5. They Don't Want You To Solve Their Problems
In contrast to the first point to give your child space when they want you to do everything for them, the opposite can also be true of some kids. At a certain point, your child will naturally want to solve their own problems, and according to Beyond Burned Out, you should generally let them. Yes, you're the parent, and yes, you make the rules. But if your child wants to climb to the top of the slide by himself, let them. Giving your child small freedoms now will ensure that they're trustworthy to get larger amounts of freedom later.