When we have children of our own, we want them to become responsible human beings, but very often parents themselves limit the children’s power to express themselves and take charge. We tell them what to do and how to do it. Some parents may argue that we are trying to protect them from the dangers of the world, but in doing so we are taking away their control and self-esteem. Parents must learn to give children responsibility for their lives.

Here are some ways on how you can do it from the early years.

When children are very young they depend on you and your care. But as soon as they can do something for themselves, let them do it. Encourage their attempts and efforts. Just as we are enthusiastic about walking, talking, and riding our bikes, teach them other smaller tasks like dressing, eating, putting away toys, etc. with the same enthusiasm.

With older children, give them more responsibilities. Send them to the grocery store alone. Trust them with money. Let them do the laundry. They can prepare some food. There are millions of things that children can do if given the chance.

Of course, at first they need some time to learn, but with a little effort and encouragement, they will get better and better. The really important thing is that they learn to trust themselves, to never stop trying. They must learn not to be afraid of failure. And they must believe that they have their support even if they fail or make a mistake.

When your children get even older, you can ask them about their opinions. Include them in family planning. Let them decide on the things that are important to them, of course within family limits.

At some point my daughter decided to wear two different socks. And as silly as she seemed to me, I let her do it. She felt understood and appreciated for her decision and that is much more important than looking “good”.

What you must learn is to respect their decisions even if you think they are silly or stupid. Intervene only if it threatens your life or the lives of others.

By giving children the opportunity to do things for themselves, they will learn important lessons about self-respect, being responsible, and trustworthy. By going from an early age with small steps, increasing tasks and responsibilities, you will also learn to trust your child that they are more likely to make the right decision when necessary. You can’t expect your child to always be telling you what to do, to take responsibility overnight. It is a learning process for both parents and children and is much easier when done gradually and over time.

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