Was this a huge mistake?

helping kids take risks helping kis learn from mistakes independent kids raising confident kids raising resilient kids Sep 14, 2021
Building a child's independence and confidence

You know those weekends when you know you need to get out of the house, but nothing appeals?  

You’re exhausted.  

The kids are whining and squabbling  

And you can’t think of anything you much want to do.  

It was on just one of those Sundays not long after we’d had our fourth child when we decided to go to Battersea Park.  

You may not know Battersea Park but I have always found the layout really confusing.  

Anyway, we went to the playground , had a hot chocolate at the café and we were walking back to car when the heavens opened.  

It was like someone was chucking bucket loads of water over our heads.  

We had the baby in the pram and Scarlett our toddler was in the toddler seat attached.  

In our tired-to-the-bone, brain-fog state of mind, we dashed towards the carpark.  

For about 5 minutes we ran along the windy paths and when we reached the car, we turned round and saw that neither Nico or Felix (4 and 7) were with us.  

Even though I knew that the likelihood of them coming to harm was small, I felt sick to my stomach.  

We started on:  

‘Oh god, where in heaven’s name can they be?’  

“How could we be so stupid not to check?’ - Actually it was probably 'How could  you be so stupid...' - parents are so likely to blame each other aren't they?  

But at that point, my phone started ringing with an unknown number.  

It was Nico telling me that they were all safe (he had a friend with him too – I forgot to mention that part) and that they’d gone back to the café.  

I almost burst into tears with relief.  

So here’s what had happened. We had been drilling the boys over and over again to learn our mobile phone numbers . We had also told them that if you get lost, the best thing to do is to go to the place where we were last together or stay where you are if you can't remember.  

I highly recommend you start teaching your mobile number from a very young age. It’s one of the best tips I can give you.  

Nico had taken charge,  

When they lost us they weren’t far from the café so he’d told Felix and Hugo (the friend), that they just needed to run back to the café.  

When they got there, he went up to a waitress and asked to borrow her mobile phone and called us.  

I have to say I felt so proud of him. It's pretty intimidating in a busy cafe to find a waitress and ask for her phone!  

You might want to know how you encourage a child to stay calm and take action like that?  

Firstly, each child does have his/her individual temperament. Some are naturally more cautious.  

However, through studying the best ways of raising a child’s self-esteem, I’d understood the importance of letting children take risks and encouraging them to be independent.  

This week I’ve drawn up some great ways you can do this with your kids – it’s really worth starting from a young age. There are so many studies that show that independent children are much less likely to be bullied, are better at solving problems and are more resilient. 

7 easy ways to encourage independence in your child


  1. Always be thinking about ways to get a child to do things for themselves. It is a myth that a ‘good parent’ does everything for their child.
  2. Balance ‘risk’ with ‘reward’. So for example, let them walk along the wall even if you think it is a bit high. You can stand near and help to steady them, but the reward from them learning the skill of balance far outweighs the risk of them falling and badly hurting themselves.
  3. Be aware of your language – cut out ‘be careful’, ‘that’s dangerous’ as much as you can. Tell them what you DO want them to do ‘Hold your hands steady as you climb’, ‘Use your balance’, ‘Keep on the pavement where it is safe’, ‘Stop away from the edge of the road when it is time to cross’.
  4. If they do make a mistake, see that as a good way to learn and respond positively ‘You gave it a go riding your bike and you had a wobble and fell. You should feel so proud of yourself for trying’. Children are sponges for us, so we might need to work on our own fears, so we don’t pass them on.
  5. Set them little challenges – get them to go up to the counter without you and pay for something in a shop or café. It may mean they are ignored or drop the change on the floor – that’s fine! Keep trying and validating the effort.
  6. Expose them to new people and places as much as you can – get them out of their comfort zone. If they are resistant at first, keep trying.
  7. Constantly validate all the brave things your child does do to improve their perception of themselves. Give them specific examples of times they were brave.

I'll soon be inviting people to enrol in The Tantrum Taming Toolkit course. This comes with 4 fantastic group zoom coaching sessions with me. If you missed it last time or know that it's something you want to do, then put your name on the waitlist to grab the early bird offer.

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