This is the main function of parenting: to raise functional adults. This is done through understanding stages of developmental maturity, through appropriate connection between parent and child and child and the world, and through slowly letting go toward the child becoming an adult making their own decisions but having a family to support and encourage them.
It sounds brief in that way, and requires much more thought in real life than what I just wrote in that sentence. There are situations that come up a million times a day that can help your child move toward being an empowered adult. So how do you do it in real life?
First, know your DEVELOPMENTAL norms. Every child eventually weans. Every child eventually sleeps in their own bed ( usually by age 10, if not before, is when they stop cosleeping or wandering into your room in the night with a bad dream). If you know the developmental norms, then that helps you know what is NOT normal and when you might need help. It might also help you identify anxiety or depression and when to intervene.
Second, respect your child’s IDENTITY. This is not only extroversion or introversion, but temperament, and likes and dislikes. This doesn’t mean you don’t get to nudge a little at the appropriate points toward things that would be healthy, but it means you have a fundamental knowledge of who your child is. Nudging is different than dramatic pushing. Sometimes all of us, including adults, need a nudge from those who love us in order to better ourselves. It is okay to nudge towards health and balance and normal developmental maturity. And we respect their changes. Because they are children who are growing, they have every right to grow and change into something different. Do not peg your 15 year old into a spot because they acted a certain way when they were seven years old.
Third, provide ENCOURAGEMENT and CONNECTION. Supportive phrases include encouragement, which is different than praise. Encouragement allows room for growth and room for the child to decide when and where to be proud of him or herself. Connect with them in their love language.
Fourth, teach your child how to be EMPOWERED. Teach them how to listen to others, teach them how to manage their own intensity, teach them how to problem solve, teach them how to set boundaries. Do not rescue them from real-life consequences. These are skills you must have YOURSELF before you can teach them!
I would love to hear some of your real life situations – let’s help each other.
Blessings and love,