The Glennie School

As parents, we all value and support independence in our children. I know I was certainly happy when our own children gained greater independence, self-help and problem solving skills. Parenting guru, Michael Grose’s latest book entitled, ‘Spoonfed Generation: How to raise independent children’, provides some valuable thoughts, tips and ideas to assist in supporting this development and also provides some food for thought in what we should not be doing as parents, if we are to really develop this independence.

We all know that we do too much for our children every day, often because it’s seems easier and less stressful at the time to just do it ourselves, but is this really helping in the long term? Michael Grose would argue that this makes them more dependent for longer and hence our redundancy does not occur. It is well documented that this generation are the most spoonfed of all others. Think back to your own childhood. I am sure that like me, the expectation was there to do more for yourself. Perhaps because families were larger and parents just didn’t have have time to do everything for everyone.

Michael reveals that “it’s time to remove the spoon and put it back in the drawer.” He feels that parents know what to do, but perhaps they need help in understanding what not to do.

In the book, he reveals a number of poor behaviours. We have all exhibited these, I certainly have, but it’s about being aware that they are very unhelpful! To which of these can you say yes?

Doing too much: We all know that children need to learn to fend for themselves and stand on their own two feet. Independence is the aim for parents. Learn to delegate. This is the number one problem

Winning arguments: The need to win arguments and prove that we are right harms relationships and creates fertile ground for conflict. Which ones are really worth fighting for and which ones we should let go?

Expecting too little: Expectations are tricky. Too high and children can give up. Too low and children will meet them too easily. We need to make sure that expectations match their developmental level.

Speaking when angry: Choose the right time to speak to your children. It’s better to wait until you are in the correct frame of mind before responding.

Failing to give proper recognition: We often take good behaviour for granted. Catch your children doing the right thing and recognise this.

Playing favourites: Children usually know who’s the favoured or preferred child in their family. Your discipline and expectations give this away. Share the parenting so you share the favouritism.

Letting your children drop out of the family: In small families, every child has a bedroom, which means isolation is easy to achieve. Teenagers, in particular, tend to prefer their own company, rather than the company of peers and parents. Put rituals in place and make sure everyone turns up to meal-time.

Taking the easy way out: Unfortunately, as we all get busier with work and other things, we can be tempted to avoid arguments by giving in to our children. Refrain from this when you know it’s the right thing to do.

Judging yourself too harshly: Parents are generally hard markers of themselves. Children are more forgiving of their parents’ blunders than their parents are on themselves.

Solving too many problems: Parents try to solve their children’s problems, rather than leave them some to solve. Forgetting their lunch or musical instrument is their problem, not yours. Pose problems for children, rather than solving them.

Confusing helping for responsibility: We all love it when our children help at home, but this shouldn’t be confused with taking responsibility. A child who gets herself up in the morning is learning to take responsibility. If you want a child to be responsible give her real responsibility.

Not listening: We always want to talk and help them solve their problems so they go away. Listen first and then decide if you need to speak.

Refusal to express regret: Sometimes parents can work themselves into a tight corner after they’ve said something out of anger or desperation. Sometimes you need to acknowledge your mistakes and start over again.

Failing to use communication processes: Establish communication processes and communication places well in advance of when you really need them.

Neglecting your own well-being: Many families operate under a child-first mentality, which places a lot of pressure and stress on parents in our fast-paced lives. Carve out some time for your own interests and leisure pursuits.

Giving feedback at the wrong time: Timing is everything when we give children feedback. If you give negative feedback immediately after an event or action, you risk discouraging them. Use ‘just in time prompts’ to remind them how to do something. Pick your timing when you give feedback.

Clinging to the past: in some instances we unknowingly put some of our problems onto our children. The problems we may have experienced growing up won’t necessarily be shared by our children. Retune your parenting antennae to your children’s lives.

Believing everything your children say: As loving parents, we want to trust our children and believe everything they tell us. Children are faulty observers and frequently only see one side of an issue. Help children process what happens to them and see issues from every side.

How did you go? It’s tough being a parent isn’t it!

Source: ‘Spoonfed Generation: How to raise independent children’ Michael Grose
Penguin Random House Australia, 2017.

Mr Steve Warren
Head of Junior Years

Posted with permission
Original article published here