Online polls indicate children ought to be given more freedom. However, there is no scientific study to show kids having unconstrained freedom becoming better individuals. Is your child having enough freedom? How do you decide? We encourage our kids to develop self-esteem; we are caught in between giving them freedom vs. restraining them; as parents, we like our children to be under our guidance and be obedient. Are we doing more harm than good through our actions?
Here are 5 pointers for you to help decide if you are giving too much freedom or not enough.
Over-protectiveness – Parent’s insecurities and experiences influence over-protectiveness towards children. The emotional bond between a parent and child drives the tendency to put a virtual protective layer around the child. When you are faced with the question of giving too much freedom or not enough freedom, you need to question your own beliefs. Is your fear and anxiety the cause for over-protection or is it truly a concern towards your child?
As parents, (in subtle ways) we expect our kids to behave the way we would behave. Remember the clichéd comment “I never used to be like this or behave like this with my mom.” I surely have been a sinner in saying that clichéd comment, it took me a lot of effort to pull back and get over it.
Confidence – Does the child exhibit confidence and self-esteem in eyes, body language and behavior? Confidence and being talkative or being an extrovert are different traits. A child can have high self-esteem, be extremely confident and still be a person of few words.
Lack of confidence is usually a trigger for a child being constrained.
On the contrary, confidence with aggressive behavior usually implies a child having to deal with too many restrictions in their growing-up years. The aggressive behavior is a repulsion and confidence being shown is superficial; in many ways it is a defensive mechanism. At the core, the child may be insecure or even stubborn.
Setting boundaries – Freedom does not equate to unrestrained behavior. As a parent, it is our duty and responsibility to set and share moral, ethical and legal boundaries to our kids. The boundaries are the extent of their playing field. Freedom is being within the playing field and following the rules of engagement.
Set these boundaries too restrictive and the children become Contingent Children – poor decision makers, dependent and little ownership of their lives.
Respect – Yes, kids deserve respect. This is not a concept which belongs to elders alone. I used to make the mistake of brushing aside the choices of my son, particularly when I felt they were inconsequential. Things changed when I started to respect his choices, belief and constraints. We ended up building greater trust. I believe it is my responsibility as a father to give him the freedom.
Then there are other occasions where I listen and respect his choices but I have the final say. There is no debate.
Children deserve to be respected for the choices they make. Does not mean that as parents we agree. Our responsibility is to guide them and give feedback.
Love – This is the glue that binds everything else. Unconditional Love to your children. Giving them the steadfast commitment, no matter what, as a parent we will always love our children and we are always there for them. Again, does not mean that we agree with everything they do. Unconditional Love is simple and plain, no strings attached. Children should not hesitate to come to us in spite of their mistakes, deficiencies or drawbacks. Our arms should always be wide open to welcome them closer to our hearts.
Are you giving your child too much freedom, or not enough?
(picture courtesy – George Hodan. Thank you George)