Avoiding ‘failure to launch’: How to raise independent teens
As parents, you always want to help your children succeed and to keep them safe and healthy. There comes a point in everyone’s life however where it’s time to leave the comfort of home and go out on your own. If you’re worried about how your teenager will fair when they leave the nest, this guide has some handy tips on how to prevent the phenomenon known as ‘failure to launch’ from happening to your teen.
Parents don’t trust their children
According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, parents surveyed were found to have very little faith in their children’s abilities. While 87% of parents surveyed feel that they are doing well to prepare their teens, many of them don’t feel their teen could handle simple life skills. Only 8% of the parents surveyed felt confident that their teen could make a doctor’s appointment on their own. Only 25% of parents thought they could take over the counter medicine appropriately and only half thought that they could give themselves first aid for a minor injury. When parents were asked why they answered the poll this way, the most common reasons were that their teens weren’t mature enough or that they don’t know enough to be able to take care of their own business. One of the most important failure to launch tips is to trust your child. The more you let go, the more confident your teen will be in their own independence.
Teach your kids independence
Teaching your kids independence is one of the best things you can do to help them succeed. From toddlerhood, you can start teaching your child to do things on their own. Instilling that they can put their stuffed animals away at age two can translate into a teenager who is able to do their own laundry. As your child ages, you can start to introduce more and more tasks that they should be able to do on their own. From preparing meals to doing their own laundry, make a list of life skills your teen should know before going off to college. The sooner you introduce these skills the better. It will do everyone in your family a lot of good if you have helpful, independent kids in your household. As your teen starts working, you should take this time to introduce personal finance skills. Teach your teen how to deposit a check, and let them learn about checking and savings account. You can even make them responsible for a bill in high school so they get the hang of paying things on time and using their own income.
Have your children run errands and do chores
A freshman in college shouldn’t be doing chores and running errands for the first time. From the time a child is little, they can start to shadow you on errands and while doing chores. As your kiddo ages, you can start to hand off some of these errands and chores and make them their responsibility. When you’re at the grocery store, you can give your teen a recipe and have them buy everything you need. You can also start to hand off chores as your child gets older. Aside from basic tasks like cleaning their room, teach them how to do their own laundry and go to the bookstore on their own. Try and think of tasks and chores that your teen will have to know how to do by their freshman year. Even when your child is young they can stay on top of their own laundry, and help unload dishes and prepare meals. The more they can do the better off they will be on their own. Helping them learn how to shop and cook may also save them from always ordering out unhealthy foods as well.
Let your children make mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. We’re all human and mistakes are bound to happen. If you are constantly shielding your child from making mistakes, they will never learn how to do something else. Mistakes are how we learn. You can learn some of the best life lessons through trial and error. The more freedom you give your child, the more room they have to make mistakes and learn from them. As hard as it may seem, if you let your child fail, they may actually be better off in the long run. Let’s say you always cook your child dinner for example. When they are 19 and in college, they may have absolutely no cooking knowledge. The more a child gets to practice something, the more prepared they will be.
Teach your teen about time management
The same principals can be applied to time management as well. If you’re always managing your child’s schedule, projects, assignments, and commitments, they won’t be able to do it for a while without you. Let your child manage their own work at school as early as you can. If your child forgets their project one day, let them. This is a hard lesson to learn but your child will likely never forget their project again if they don’t have you to fall back on. In high school, have your child start to make their own appointments and keep track of their own commitments if they aren’t already.
Managing time and being responsible for commitments and our workload are some of the most valuable skills as an adult. One of the most important failure to launch tips to remember is that it’s never too early to start teaching your child about time management and keeping their commitments. Not only will these skills come in handy in high school but it will also pay off when they enter the job market.