Whilst we long to shield our sons from the dangers of the modern world, it’s crucial that we don’t. Failure, bullies, physical injuries — these are just a few of the challenges that children face regularly. Self-reliance is a valuable skill for your son to develop when dealing with these challenges. Exposing your son to these experiences and equipping him with the ability to think on his own two feet will help him to solve his own problems.
Here are eight valuable tips you need to teach your son self-reliance.
1. Start small
Start off by making your son responsible for completing easy tasks and hold him accountable for them. You can do this by giving him daily chores around the house that he can tick off a check list. This will help him to realise his place at home and the valuable contribution he can make as a family member.
2. Teach him cause and effect
A valuable step towards self-reliance is learning cause and effect. When your son realises his actions have consequences, he is well on the path to becoming more responsible. This can empower your son to make better decisions and see the bigger picture. You can teach cause and effect by prompting your child to talk through his choices, and their possible consequences, whenever a situation presents itself. Making this a regular activity will develop your son’s ability to automatically think through the consequences of his actions.
3. Encourage discussion
Open discussion encourages creative thinking and a safe space for your son to share his opinion. Ask him to explain why he chose his way of doing things over other alternatives. It’s important for him to understand that there isn’t always a right and wrong way of doing things – rather that self-reliance requires a thoughtful approach to making good decisions.
4. Help him to be informed
This tip may work better with older boys, but part of being self-reliant is being properly informed. Boys need to understand the reason behind decisions they make and actions they take. This often means learning more about these decisions or actions. You can help by advising him on what each action requires of him and why it’s important. For example, if your son was to commit to washing the dishes, he needs to fully understand the process to complete this task well, and he should know why cleaning up matters.
5. Teach time management
A large part of being self-reliant is knowing how to manage time. This is just as important for children as it is for adults. Children are often faced with an information overload and it’s easy to see how hard it can be for them to make the right decision when feeling overwhelmed. You can help by structuring a timetable for various activites and ensuring your son sticks to it.
6. Make room for free time
Children need time to play and explore – it is why play-based learning is such a successful model. Yes, developing a routine and time management skills are important, but boys also need time to be children and explore the physical world around them. This will give them the time and space they need to be curious and solve their own problems without an adult telling them how to deal with challenges.
7. Help with decisions, but don’t make them
Sometimes children need you to decide for them, but there are huge benefits in your child learning to make their own decisions. Give them an opportunity to make suggestions and choices – this can help develop independence.
8. Model self-reliance
Naturally your son will look up to you as a role model. The methods you use to organise your life is an easy to way for your son to observe self-reliance. Expose him to your calendars, lists and other organisational methods that you use. How you manage your relationships will also help to shape your son’s behaviour. Involving him in some of the decisions that you make is a valuable way to teach him self-reliance.
Things to remember
Your son is curious. He will naturally push the boundaries while exploring the world around him. It’s important to develop a consistent approach to self-reliance as there will be times when your son tries to fall back on you to perform tasks for him.
It’s also important to remember that your son is increasingly faced with an information overload. Developing an understanding of the world and his place in it will take time, so patience from you is crucial. Appreciate that at times he will feel overwhelmed, and that part of being self-reliant is knowing how to cope with this.
Self-reliance built from experiences will produce more engaged children and prepare them for obstacles ahead. As a parent or carer, you can greatly influence your son’s development of this skill and be a valuable teacher in his life.
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