They Want Independence…You Want Them Safe: Middle Ground?

Independent GirlBefore setting a limit, offer empathy and recognition of their needs or wants. Saying, “I understand that you want to join Tommy in going to the park after dark and that you feel there is nothing to worry about.” Validating their feelings also models respect and the importance of valuing each other’s perspective. Rather than immediately devaluing their requests as immature or possibly dangerous, recognizing their desires as something that within their world makes sense, lays the groundwork for your child to become an empathic adult.

Problem solving or compromising together shows your child a way to reach a resolution in a mature and calm manner. For instance, “Since I feel it is unsafe to go to the park after dark, is there another time in which the two of you could go?” Offering choices is a great way to foster autonomy within limits, such as, “It’s cold out and you gotta wear a coat. Which would you like, your black one or your green windbreaker?” Being consistent, of course, is always key and staying firm when concerns over their safety is warranted. It is our responsibility to take care of our children. However, it is also our duty to ensure they are learning the way to be safe and healthy.


familycoach-book-smallerThis post reflects Dr Kenney’s “The Family Coach Method” used in practice for a number of years, and released for publication just this past September. The Family Coach Method is ‘rug-level,’ friendly and centered on the concept of families as a winning team – with dozens of age-appropriate sample conversations and problem solving scenarios to guide a family to the desired place of mutual respect, shared values and strengths. The goal is to help children to develop the life skills, judgment and independence that can help them navigate the challenges of an increasingly complex world. The Family Coach Method is also being taught as an Educational Series where parents can join with other moms and dads in live calls with Dr Kenney.

About the Author

Dr. Lynne Kenney is the nation’s leading pediatric psychologist in the development of classroom cognitive-physical activity programs for students grades K-8. Dr. Kenney develops curriculum, programming, and activities to improve children’s cognition through coordinative cognitive-motor movement, executive function skill-building strategies, and social-emotional learning. Dr. Kenney’s works include the Social-Emotional Literacy program Bloom Your Room™; Musical Thinking; Bloom: 50 things to say, think and do with anxious, angry and over-the-top-kids and 70 Play Activities For Better Thinking, Self-Regulation, Learning and Behavior. Learn more at Lynne is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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