This generation’s parents are all about showering their kids with more — more love and affection, more protection, more good memories, more choices, more opportunities. It may stem from the fact that parents did not receive these growing up, so they want to give their children more than what they had themselves. And while there’s nothing wrong with overflowing love, you’d be surprised how quickly it can turn to overparenting.
Yes, you want to give your child more protection, so you hover in the playground, worried that she’ll fall on her face when it’s her turn to go down the slide. You want to give her more choices, so you buy her different kinds of toys even when she doesn’t need much. You want to provide her more opportunities, so you enroll her early in school, hoping she’ll grow up smart and intelligent.
You think of the many ways you can make your child happy, not realizing you could be overwhelming her — and filling your head with mental clutter and exhausting yourself, too.
Denaye Barahona, a child development expert, mom of two, and founder of Simple Families, a blog and podcast that helps moms focus on simple living, knows what it’s like to unconsciously over-parent her kids. She says what helped her shift her focus is to parent like a minimalist.
“Minimalism is more than just getting rid of all your stuff. It’s about filtering out the noise to focus your energy on what’s important,” Barahona writes in No Sidebar.
Barahona says the secret formula for parents is this: less is more. When you simplify your child’s world, you help her become aware of the present moment ,and you give her the space to let her imagination blossom, according to Green Child Magazine. Here are some ways to do that.
While it’s reasonable to worry about your child’s safety, projecting our fears to our children can dampen their confidence and lead them to avoid risks altogether. So instead of hovering, develop your kids’ natural curiosity and instill a sense of responsibility. Studies have shown that taking risks and conquering fears can be a good thing — your kids develop resilience, and they discover they are more than capable of doing things when they take a chance.
“When we provide endless varieties of entertainment for our children, we leave them with very little opportunity to create and explore new ideas on their own,” says Barahona. Let your kids pick what activities they want to do, even if you think it’s not an effective use of his time. Not only will it develop their independence, but you’ll also be surprised how creative children can get when we leave them to their imagination. Free play or independent play also builds critical thinking and confidence, and it will also give you, the parent, more time to accomplish your own tasks. It’s a win-win!
Let your kids be bored
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Planning too many activities for your child’s development will exhaust both of you. At the same time, giving in to screen time whenever your child mutters, ‘I’m bored,’ can also have detrimental effects.
Let your kids do nothing — it’s good for them! It fosters skills like creativity and problem solving, plus, it can also help them discover their passion and interests.
Children argue. Siblings fight. And while it’s tempting to jump in and resolve conflict before it escalates, children need to learn how to settle disagreements on their own. Again, it’s a chance to hone their problem-solving skills and learn lessons from it. Let them surprise you and show you that they can do it.
You don’t always have to buy your child the latest toys and gadgets. Once the excitement wears off, all it becomes is clutter. And too much clutter can increase stress in the household.
Buying your children less stuff will teach them to better filter out the noise and focus on the essential things, according to Barahona. Instead of toys, there is one thing that children value more — family vacations. Studies have shown that it can have a long-term impact on children’s happiness. Let’s teach our children to value experiences over material things.