Ask Dr. Annie K: Transition In Parenting

My 11-year-old said (more like yelled,) “Stop telling me what to do!” Wait a second. Isn’t that basically my job to tell him what to do? Any words of wisdom on the transition in parenting, from constantly telling our kids what to do to letting them figure things out on their own?
– Anonymous Reader

Love+Medicine

Transition in parenting, hmm. Let me begin by saying I am not a child psychiatrist so this is not my area of expertise. But I have basic concepts that I believe in and think they would work here.

I also consulted with one of my favorite 11 year olds, to get a take on the situation from a child’s perspective.

Our job as parents is to raise children to be happy, healthy and independent. Sometimes that comes in the form of telling them what to do but much more crucial is guiding them to make good decisions themselves. We want them to learn how to problem solve, not just follow orders. Rather than telling them what to do, tell them the goal. Let them figure out how to get there. Set expectations and rewards for meeting them. The ability to figure it out on their own builds confidence in their own decision making.

My young consultant says: “limits need to be reasonable, not too wide and not too narrow, but if it’s not healthy the parents need to stop it.”

If a kid has a passion, no matter what it is – video games, reading, cooking – they should be allowed to pursue it. But not all day – there need to be limits. Encourage them to find room for stretching the body/mind/heart. Too much of anything isn’t good except for love and hugs.

Dr. Annie K

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2 comments

  1. Gets right to the heart of it. Thank you! Somehow I can’t get enough of this kind of good advice. Helps to give me better perspective.

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