In the past few weeks, incoming college students have moved into their dorm rooms and started a new chapter. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, students transitioning to a new school can take up to four to six weeks to fully adjust.
Entering college is one of the most significant steps kids take on their road to adulthood. It’s also an emotional time for parents who may not be ready to “let go.”
Letting go is a natural part of parenting – one that begins as soon as your children begin to walk and talk on their own. It’s a process that helps build independence and enables your kids to eventually transition to adulthood with the confidence that they have the tools and knowledge to handle any situation.
Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care or that you’re cutting ties with your child – it’s being supportive of your kids while at the same time giving them the space to make their own decisions and learn from their experiences (and their mistakes).
It’s not always easy, but with these tips, parents can tackle the challenges associated with letting go, regardless of the parenting stage.
1. Be consistent.
Make sure that you and your spouse/partner are on the same page to ensure consistent coaching and that your child’s growth and independence is developed at a pace that’s mutually agreed upon.
2. Be confident.
Confidence breeds confidence – showing your child that you have confidence in what they can do helps build their confidence and independence as well.
3. Make sure your child is comfortable.
Building independence is a gradual process that should happen over time. Make sure your child is comfortable as you progressively give them opportunities to test and build their independence. Stretching their comfort zone is ok as long as your kids still feel supported.
4. Find your child’s strengths.
Pay attention to your children’s favorite activities – reinforcing the strengths they exhibit during those experiences will heighten their engagement and willingness to take risks.
5. Build independence.
Similar to the experience of riding a bike, build your child’s confidence over time – give them the experience and practice they need before taking off the training wheels.
6. Respect their space.
Have faith and give your children the time and space they need to apply their decision-making skills and figure things out on their own. Once your children have proven that they have the confidence and knowledge to handle things independently, allow them to do what you’ve taught them to do.
7. Reinforce the importance of commitment.
When circumstances become challenging or frustrating, it’s natural to want to push them to the side or ask parents to take over. As your children tackle tough subjects or situations, remind them of your support and the importance of following through with their commitments.
8. Help your child create a healthy balance.
Giving your children opportunities to explore extracurricular interests will help advance their confidence, but it’s important to keep everything in balance to ensure other aspects of their lives don’t suffer. Provide guidance for prioritizing so kids keep their focus on what’s most important for achieving their ultimate goals.
9. Be mindful of your actions.
As role models, we have a strong influence over whether our kids feel confident in what they can do. Model positive behavior, be supportive and show your kids you have confidence in their abilities to be independent.
10. Recognize their achievements.
Acknowledging your children’s positive choices and behavior not only builds their confidence, but also helps parents feel more comfortable about the process of letting go.
For more parenting tips, please visit the Parenting Approach section of our website.
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