Encouraging your children to be independent | Portsmouth High School

Encouraging your children to be independent

My 90 year old mother telephoned the other evening in a panic. My husband who was driving to stay with her whilst my sister was on holiday had not arrived and she was worried. He was due at 6pm and even though it was only 5.30pm as a former military man he is always early and therefore she was concerned. Of course he arrived on time and all was well.

I don’t think you ever stop worrying about your children and in this case it was not even my mother’s own child. In the days before mobile phones I always gave mother a much later arrival time to stop her fussing. As a parent one of the hardest aspects of motherhood/fatherhood is learning to let go and encourage your children to be independent.

Clarissa Farr, the retiring High Mistress of St Paul’s, said in an interview in the Sunday Times this week that she gives advice to parents that she received from her mother and that is “teach your children to be independent as early as possible”.

Independence comes in many forms at different ages. Some five year olds are reported as not being “school ready”

because they can’t dress themselves. As children grow older being able to travel unaccompanied on public transport is one example but also ensuring that work deadlines are met without constant reminders and most importantly of all taking responsibility for the times when whatever it is that they are doing doesn’t work out as hoped. In the senior school it is usual for children to stop telling parents the details of their day and when they do use home as a sounding board for minor disagreements they don’t necessarily want parents to sort out their problems but just listen.

Two of our sixth formers are to show their independence by using the money they were awarded from a GDST travel scholarship to visit overseas. Manon is to travel to India to work in forest conservation and Romana intends to improve her language skills by spending six months in a French school followed by six months in a Spanish school. We wish them both well in their adventures and congratulate them on their travel awards.