Habitot Children's Museum

SPRING-SUMMER HOURS
April 1 - September 30
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun

9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30
Private Rentals Only

Closed on Sundays though Septmeber!

FALL-WINTER HOURS
October 1- March 31
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30

THIS MONTH'S SPONSOR
State Farm Insurance
Berkeley Agent, Gary Eason
http://garyeason.net/



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Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111
www.habitot.org


Learning to Love Letting Go
From the moment children are born, parents embark on a lifelong journey of letting go. Gradually at first as children leave the safety of the womb and then wean themselves, later when they release our hands and walk away on unsteady legs, and soon enough when they enter preschool or kindergarten, begin spending more and more time with their friends, and eventually when they leave for college or jobs or far away travels.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the innocent and naïve being that still gets emotional about having to wear a sweater might someday soon be traveling alone in India with a backpack. Autonomy is essential and inevitable for us humans. With our support and good guidance, and hopefully our own emotional resilience, our children will be able to step away from us and be independent, self-realized individuals.

What is challenging for most parents is finding the balance between our anxieties and their needs to grow. Some of us also need to manage how attached we are to our children, and how much we enjoy them needing us when in fact, they are ready to spread their wings.

Parents must shift their thinking from overemphasizing “keeping kids safe” to ”investing in their abilities and opportunities to manage themselves.” Rather than always worrying about what could happen, help children from the earliest years on how to take reasonable risks, make smart choices, handle disappointments, get up and try again, and know that you will always be there for them. Letting go can be one of the most difficult things a parent has to do, but it is among the most important aspects of raising capable, independent adults.

Here are some ways to support yourself (and your young child) through this process:

  • Check your fears at the door – much of what has changed for parents in the last few decades is the pervasiveness of media coverage about all the scary things that can happen to kids. These reports are off-scale with the actual risks. Do your research, and adjust your thinking so you can give kids permission to be autonomous in more settings.

  • Give permission - Allow your child to try to do things for himself – even if means taking more time, making a mess or suffering a skinned knee now and again. Be OK with results that are less than perfect – remind yourself this is your child’s learning moment, not your moment to get something the way you want it.

  • Build confidence – let your child know that you're there if needed, but that you’re also giving her the space she needs to deal with the task at hand. Express your belief that she’ll figure it out, and tell her how proud you are of how hard she tries. You may be surprised at how much your child can do and handle on her own when you step back. For extra credit, look for opportunities where you can give your child a ‘stretch moment’ – something she’s not tried before that you think she’s ready to tackle and succeed at.

  • Stay connected - Always make time to talk about your days and give an extra cuddle whenever needed. When children are struggling with their own autonomy, at whatever stage, they may have setbacks, and it can be scary. You cannot live through this experience for your child – they have to go through it themselves. But your support makes it possible to persevere. As children grow more and more into their individuality, you may not feel the same closeness you’re used to, but it’s there if you have built a foundation of trust. This foundation will keep your relationship strong even when your child is growing apart from you.

  • A word to parents sending their children to preschool or kindergarten for the first time - Don’t let your own fears and sadness of your child growing up and away overshadow your child’s exciting new ventures. So many times parents cry more on the first day of school than their kids do! Save your tears for a spouse or a friend and let their milestone be a day purely of excitement and joy.
 
Resources:

WPromoting Independence and Agency.
National Quality Standard Professional Learning Program. 2013.
www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/nqsplp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/NQS_PLP_E-Newsletter_No64.pdf

Helping A Toddler Ease Into Independence. Ask Dr. Sears. 2013.
www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/attachment-parenting/helping-toddler-ease-independence

Let Go… And Let Them Grow! Super Nanny UK. 2009.
www.supernanny.co.uk/Advice/-/Family-Matters/-/Relationships/Let-go-and-let-them-grow.aspx

 
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