make your life EPIC
It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings. – Ann Landers
At times it can be difficult, to let our children struggle to do things on their own. While we do need to keep an eye on our little ones for safety, according to an article by The Bump, over-parenting can lead to a child with memory issues and even developmental delays. A child who has never tied his own shoes may lack fine motor skills, and a child who is reminded to do everything has no reason to develop a working memory.
This isn’t just bad for them developmentally. Learning to problem solve is a key part of being successful in adulthood, and figuring things out on your own as a kid is just plain fun. Learning how to be independent is not only part of an epic journey to adulthood, it will help them develop the skills they need to have an epic life as an adult!
Things like getting your own breakfast might seem ordinary to you, but to a child, it is an incredible adventure filled with imagined dangers and bravery. Yes, even if it’s just cereal… that milk could spill!
Just by refusing to do things for your child (that are frankly age-appropriate), you can teach your kid a vast wealth of important things and make their lives more fun too. If you’re a little nervous about letting your child near the microwave, in case they put a burrito in for 99 minutes and 99 seconds when your back is turned, don’t worry. You can help them be independent in safe ways by starting off with how you let them play.
Older children can learn to tie their shoes and open packages by themselves, but what about a toddler or even baby? An article by Parents.com states even a young baby can grow faster and with better development by being left to figure out a new toy on their own. This doesn’t mean not supervising, you can be right there beside them, but simply don’t show them how the new toy works. A child left to their own devices with a toy can often figure out all the surprise features faster than if a parent shows them.
Older babies and toddlers can be left to play independently for a few minutes, and as they grow older you can safely add more time. Children who are allowed to be more independent are generally more successful in life and are more empathetic to other people.
encourage free play
Even today’s toys seem to come with rules about how they should be played with. The puzzle box won’t work unless each piece goes in the proper place, or a car will only go down the racetrack if it is a particular type. This is fine of course, but it’s also okay to break the rules.
If your child is flying a car instead of driving it, don’t discourage them or correct them as to what it is for. Let them use their toys in unique ways, and as long as an adult object isn’t dangerous, let them use it for free play. Obviously breakable objects aren’t fine, but the comforter off your bed to make a tent is okay.
Free play still needs to be supervised for safety, but take a back seat and let your child explore. You may be surprised how long your child will play with that super big cardboard box before they get tired of it, and how much they will enjoy the experience. For more on encouraging kids to play and the benefits that come from it, see our previous guest blog post, don’t forget to PLAY!
As adults, we sometimes forget that life itself is epic. A cloud that looks like an elephant, a frog hidden in the pond or a tree waiting to be climbed are all amazing parts of our lives. Our kids are naturally responsive to these things if we let them be. Our job is to step back and let them see the world for what it is. Amazing.
books that instill confidence and courage kids to pursue an EPIC life
Reading together is also a wonderful way to help our children understand what it takes to pursue an epic life. Some of our favorites include All By Myself (Little Critter) (Look-Look) by Mercer Mayer which exemplifies independence through Little Critter who proudly shares all of the things he can do on his own, If I Never Forever Endeavor by Holly Meade tells the tale of a young bird who musters up the courage to leave the safety of it’s cozy and safe nest and Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty is about an inquisitive young girl (inspired by Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie) who, just like a scientist, learns things through trial and error and persists no matter the challenges.
Another awesome resource is Big Life Journal. Through their printables, journals and other engaging products, you are equipped with the right tools to help instill a strong growth mindset as well as teach your child to have the courage to follow their passions.
Please enjoy this free Tot Tails coloring page to help share this message with your child.