It's the first day of school, and in place of excitement lies a sea of anxiousness, fear, and tears. Are these feelings coming from your child or you?

It's natural for parents to want to shield their children from harm. However, when does this protective instinct become a hindrance for your child's growth and independence?

Holding on vs. letting go

Hovering over your child constantly and swooping in at the first sign of trouble can have negative impacts on their development. By taking away the opportunity to learn problem-solving skills and be self-reliant, you may inadvertently impede their growth.

While it can be daunting to let them explore the world independently, let them make their own decisions, pursue their own hobbies, and learn through their own experiences. Doing so fosters their confidence to explore new things. It also helps them to develop essential lifelong skills such as social skills, adaptability, and resilience to cope with stress.

Am I ready to let my child go?

You may still see your child as that little baby you held in your arms, who needs your constant love and attention. It’s completely normal! As they grow and become more independent, it can be hard to accept this natural progression. The first step you can take is to shift the perspective and ask yourself if your child is ready to let go. Here are some signs that they’re ready for independence:

  • They feel comfortable being on their own

  • They are aware of their surroundings

  • They know what to do if a stranger approaches them

  • They know how to contact you or the authorities if they need help

Managing my fears and worries

At the end of the day, you know your child best. If they are ready for independence but you’re still feeling hesitant about it, you can take proactive steps to manage your worries. Here are 5 things you can do!

#1 Stay busy

Rather than sitting around and feeling anxious, come up with a routine. This will give you something to do and help you regain control. It also distracts you from worrying about your child when they’re not with you.

#2 Acknowledge your feelings

Allow yourself to feel upset or afraid. Validating your emotions empowers you to confront them with confidence. Take the time to recognise what you're feeling and understand its triggers. Self-awareness will help you make better decisions regarding your child's well-being.

#3 Let your child make mistakes

Unless your child is in immediate danger or will face dire consequences from their actions, take a step back. You can be there to listen to them, offer encouragement, and motivate them to try again. Ultimately, allowing your child to feel a sense of accomplishment from their own efforts is invaluable for their growth and development.

#4 Reach out for support

Talk to your spouse for a listening ear and comfort. It’s a good time to discuss what you’re going through and how they can be there to help. Remember, parenting is a partnership! You can also reach out to family or friends and lean on them for support. Some of them may have been in your shoes and can give advice on how they managed similar situations.

#5 Seek professional help

If you still find it extremely difficult to let your child go and it starts to affect your day-to-day life, there are professionals out there who can help you. Getting help can provide you with the tools and guidance you need to navigate this challenge effectively, benefitting both you and your child as they continue to grow and thrive!