21st Century Parenting: How to Raise a Self-Reliant Child

Parenting becomes challenging as children get older, especially in a world that’s changing rapidly. Once your child starts building a life outside home, their exposure to worldly affairs, habits & sense of identity are influenced by various other external factors you have little control over. Parents often have a hard time adapting to their changing behaviour and may also get anxious about it. You might struggle to decide how much authority you should have as a parent; how much monitoring is healthy and most importantly, how you should communicate it to your child.

Although most parents only want the best for their children, children might not be able to perceive it well if your techniques are not favorable. These are the three common types of parenting styles observed nowadays. 

There is also one commonly misunderstood and practiced parenting style we should all be aware of: Helicopter parenting. It is basically hovering around your child all the time, being extra-protective & over-involved in their lives. It might interfere with their development in essential skills like problem-solving & decision making, create long-term dependence on parents and lead to struggle with self-identity. 

Helicopter Parenting looks like

– Taking complete control over child’s routine

– Trying to get kids competitive edge in everything from academics, sports to hobbies.

– Trying to manage child’s social life

– Monitoring every activity

Most of us have grown up around this style of parenting and it does have some benefits, but it might not make your child the best version of themselves. A 21st century child needs habits that sharpen their mind, a future-ready skill set, and more than anything, they need an upgraded set of life skills.  

Give your child room to grow, let them pick new skills by themselves and view their success & failure independently of your expectations. Instead of adding more parent duties to your schedule, focus on raising a strong & self-reliant child. Here are a few life skills to check off your list.

1.      Budgeting & Saving:

You can start with how to manage their pocket money. You can teach them how to plan their expenditure ahead, keep some aside for emergency money and save some to watch it grow over time. You can offer to contribute your share for every portion they save. When you take them out for shopping, you can also teach them how to not go for the first thing they see. By teaching them to compare options, analyzing if it’s your money’s worth, you help them be decisive and value money.  

2.  Time Management:

Children are easily distracted especially with all the gadgets and screens around them. Instead of making their schedules, you can introduce them to simple time management strategies & let them do it. You can try some useful & proven techniques like Pomodoro for studies or the Time Management Matrix for prioritizing tasks. Additionally, you can also give them a planner to track their tasks.

 3. Tech Knowledge:

Technology has changed our lives with better access to information and revolutionized the way we work. Tech skills prepare your kids for ever-changing work dynamics. With advanced teaching methods like Hybrid learning, learning tech skills are no more difficult. Your child can choose from learning to code, graphics, animation, making a digital photography portfolio, etc. You can try out Tekie’s free Coding class that uses animated series to teach Coding, book now.

4. Decision-making skills

We make decisions everyday–some have small consequences & some contribute to a larger goal. Sometimes we go with our instincts, sometimes we like to contemplate it. Decision-making is a highly rewarding skill.  Although it might seem easy for you to just make decisions for your kid and have them follow it, letting them be a part of it might give them a sense of responsibility. Be it making a big purchase, trying a new skill, planning a weekend activity, they can learn about a few things like basic research, planning and become more empathetic in the process.

5. Caring about the Environment and Sustainability

You can start with small initiatives like avoiding littering or not wasting electricity, food & water at home. You can also lead by example by buying organic & local produce and avoiding single-use plastic. As a family you can dedicate a day in a month to reuse and recycle stuff at home. 

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was only 15 when she started her protest outside the Swedish parliament. Today she is the founder of the campaign “Fridays for Future,” has authored two books and also has a BBC docu-series covering her movement. Introduce your child to such leaders and their great work, ignite the passion in them and encourage their initiatives. 

6. Social Skills & Empathy

After a certain age, warning about Stranger Danger is not the most adequate way of protecting your child. We have to teach them how to make a judgement and communicate their thoughts clearly. You can also observe how they interact with the people in their day-to-day life. Are they polite? If they are not, is there a specific reason for it? You have to ensure their social circle is diverse and your child makes an effort with people.   

7.  Household Chores:

You can get your child to contribute to chores by taking responsibility for their chores first. Instill the habit of making bed, cleaning cupboards, folding the laundry and more. If they don’t show interest in participating then you could try communicating in different ways. For eg. challenge them by saying ‘Let’s see who’s going to complete this task first’, ‘Let’s see who will do it better’ and see if that gets them moving. Also, ask for their suggestions ‘Can you suggest how to fix this’, ‘Which colour would look good on this wall’, ‘How should I arrange these books’, ‘Can you help me to figure this out, etc’. You can teach your child how to be decisive and independent through these activities.

8. Being open to different perspective:

The first step to raising an empathetic child is not to be overprotective and defensive about them. When your child develops dislike or anger towards someone, do not encourage them or even be quick to judge. Let them express their feelings and then gradually make them see where the other person is coming from. If it’s an argument they are dealing with, teach them how to be articulate and listen to what their opponent has to say about that. This can also make your child a team player and a good leader.

9. Resilience & dealing with unpleasant emotions

They don’t have to master every skill nor do they have to win every contest, but you have to teach them how to give their 100%. Ensure they don’t back out only due to fear or stick to their comfort zone. Your job is to motivate them and help them, not feed them with solutions. That’s something they have to figure out on their own. Create an environment where they feel comfortable asking for help and okay failing at things.

10.  Self-Discipline

If you want your child to take up responsibilities the best way to start is by modelling self-discipline. Ensure your partner and you also follow a routine where you share responsibilities, communicate empathetically and also practice self-care. Help your child identify their goals, ask them to balance study & play and stay physically active. Let them know it’s okay to say no to plans if it doesn’t align with their schedules, ask for their inputs instead of just planning activities for them.

Also remember that there is no perfect technique for Parenting, we all are trying to do a better job every day. It’s not important to get everything right, as long as you learn from your mistakes and have your child’s best interest at heart.