I can hear the protests already. Maybe you clicked on this article just to see what soft, lazy advice is inside so you can comment negatively. If I let my kids do whatever they want, you may be thinking, they will do nothing but watch TV and eat junk food.
I am here to tell you that is not correct. “But,” you may be tempted to respond, “I’ve seen them do exactly that. That IS what they do when they can do whatever they want. They play video games and snack.”
No, that may be what they do when they can do whatever they want without parental structure. Contrary to popular belief, children do want parental structure. They also want parental attention and involvement. And when they know that they can get it, they take advantage of it and do something constructive.
Try asking them a few questions. What would they do at home if they could do whatever they wanted? How would they spend their day at school if they could learn whatever they wanted? What would they change in their communities—or who would they help—if they had the chance?
Now tell them that they can do those things, and they can start today—with your help. Ask them where they would like to start. You may find yourself being the audience for a private gymnastics performance. You may find yourself researching the best free software for doing stop-motion animation. You may find yourself downloading a recipe for cooking a meal, driving to the grocery store to pick up the missing ingredients for that meal, playing a board game, planting pumpkin seeds, renting a guitar, stapling copy paper together for your child to make a book, walking the neighborhood to recruit for a pickup basketball game, or helping your child set up a charity lemonade stand.
You may find yourself doing lots of things. And that’s the rub. Letting your kids do whatever they want is not passive. It is intense and exhausting for parents, even though the primary doers are the kids.
You will need to invest your time and resources. You will need to call upon your energy reserves. You will need to find patience as you witness many rookie mistakes. You will need to shuffle your own schedule to make room for all of it.
And what do you get for your effort? Your kids will be doing things. They will be learning things. They will be meeting people.
And when it is done, they just might relax by watching some TV or eating a snack. And maybe you will, too. Go ahead, you deserve it. Letting your kids do whatever they want is hard work.
How to Cite this Article: Brian Vondruska, “Let Your Kids Do Whatever They Want”, The Kind of Parent You Are, accessed [date], https://www.thekindofparentyouare.com/articles/let-your-kids.