3 Reasons to Step Back (and Not Over-Mother)

Something that’s a massive challenge for a lot of mums to do is step back and let our kids do things for themselves. I think it’s because most of us are naturally nurturers! I know I’m a mum that likes to do a lot for my kids and often have to remind myself that I’m not doing them any favours when I take over. Kids need to develop self-reliance and self-worth and one of the best ways they can do this is when we teach and then step back.

Years ago my two oldest kids went to a horse camp during the holidays and it became very apparent that they would have to do everything themselves, including making food. I remember feeling a bit anxious as to whether they’d be able to even feed themselves! So I took the lady in charge aside and talked to her about what my kids needed. She looked at me like I was crazy! That’s when I realised I just needed to let go and get out of there!

As I took the long drive home I contemplated my mothering technique and realised I took over way too much! Often it was more about me wanting to feel needed than about what my kids needed. I wanted my kids to be capable and confident but by constantly stepping in I was making them dependant on me and on others. I was over-mothering. A harsh realisation!

Needless to say, big changes were made from that moment. 

As soon as my kids got home they asked me to make them a smoothie. I said I’d show them how to do it and then they would need to know how to make it for themselves. They’d ask me for water and I would point them to the tap. Oh yes they protested, but I explained how important it was for them to do things for themselves – just like at horse camp.

They’re making better progress today – I’m starting to see proactive kids who are starting to think for themselves, although I constantly have to remind myself to step back! 

Teach and step back. Teach and step back.

3 Reasons to step back as a parent

self-worth

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a child doing something well for themselves. I’ve watched my kids blossom as they become more independent. As it turns out, there are better ways to build self-esteem than heaping on praise on them — starting with helping them become competent in the world. 

To do so, though, we have to learn to step back and let our kids take risks, make choices, solve problems and stick with what they start.

Self-reliance

The dictionary defines self-reliance as “reliance on one’s own powers and resources rather than those of others.”

Self-reliant people solve their problems directly. They focus on their problems and solve them directly, rather than try to guilt others or whine about how their situation is unfair. They accept the world as it is and use their own powers of initiative, skill and hard work to achieve what they find important.

Self-reliant people value creation more than consumption. They’re more passionate about creating a youtube video than watching one. In general, self-reliant people fall more in the creator column than the consumer column.

Children Learn from Making Mistakes

Mistakes help a child learn how their decisions impact a situation. Essentially mistake making improves decision-making skills, whether in the case of an adult or a child. Even adults make bad choices, so it should be okay if a child makes a poor choice once in a while, as long as a mistake does not pose a risk to the child’s well-being.

The key point here is don’t rush to fix it – unless you want to be living with them when they are 40 and still having to help pick up the pieces to every problem they encounter!

You might be wondering at what age to start teaching and stepping back?

You might be wondering at what age to start teaching and stepping back. There are many differing ideas on this, however, from my experience I have been stepping back from my 4-year-old son since he was three. He does so much for himself and rarely asks me to do anything except get him milk. A good rule of thumb:

Never do for a child what they can do for themselves.

I know it isn’t realistic to be able to adhere to that 100% of the time, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re about to do a task that your child may be capable of doing. Teach and step back. Teach and step back.

The dictionary defines self-reliance as “reliance on one’s own powers and resources rather than those of others.”

Self-reliant people solve their problems directly. They focus on their problems and solve them directly, rather than try to guilt others or whine about how their situation is unfair. They accept the world as it is and use their own powers of initiative, skill and hard work to achieve what they find important.

Self-reliant people value creation more than consumption. They’re more passionate about creating a youtube video than watching one. In general, self-reliant people fall more in the creator column than the consumer column.

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