Let go..and let them grow!

As your baby turns from someone helpless and needy to a real, forceful and independent little person, it can be challenging – for you, as well as him. Growing up is inevitable, but many Mums and Dads find it extremely difficult when they realise they need to let go of their little ones.

It's hard to let go, but you have to...

Letting go can be one of the most difficult things a parent has to do.

“I think it’s really hard,” says Supernanny’s expert clinical psychologist Dr Victoria Samuel. “Parenting has two conflicting roles, nurturing, but also supporting a child’s independence and building up his own personality. It can be very painful to go from one to another.”

There’s something so magical about babies and all that unconditional love they lavish upon you can be very powerful. After all, how often are you made to think that you are the most important person in the world? But as an infant grows older, he will start to assert himself more and more. And, as he starts to want to do things on his own - turning up his nose at the clothes you choose or batting away the spoon you try to feed him with - it can almost seem like a rejection.

“Letting go can symbolise not being needed,” says Victoria. “It’s tough, but if you are babying your child too much, you do need to think about making some changes as you don’t want to hold your child back. They – and you – need to learn what they should be capable of doing.”

Becoming a parent can sometimes seem like you’ve opened yourself up to a lifetime of worry and rejection. It starts with the move from baby to toddler-dom, accelerates as your pre-schooler starts school, and doesn’t stop after that! As any parent of a teenager will tell you, letting go and allowing them to do their own thing doesn’t get any easier. Just wait until they leave home…

“Autonomy is essential and inevitable,” says Victoria. “Look at other parents and their children – you can always learn from them. Children have to do things for themselves, and the more you hold them back and do things for them, the more it sends them a message that they’re not capable. That’s quite crushing for their self-confidence.”

Cute little babies don’t last forever, so enjoy them while you can. But remember, the magic doesn’t stop just because they learn to say “no” or tell you that they want to do something themselves. Each stage brings its own fantastic adventure, from learning to talk to learning to read. And as they age, you will both enjoy the ability to have “proper” conversations about things which interest you, from football to music.

Your child needs to grow up, and you need to help him. It’s vital for his self-esteem that he becomes self-sufficient, but it doesn’t mean that your role as a parent has become redundant. You’ll just be needed in a different way.

“Children growing up is normal,” says Victoria. “If you are finding that really hard, then you might benefit from talking things through with a professional, as you need to find out where your motivation for trying to keep them babies is coming from.

“Letting go can be painful, and it can be particularly hard with the youngest, but it’s something you have to do."

Tips for letting go:

  • Allow your child to try to do things for himself – even if means making a mess. This may mean spending more time at the table as he tries to feed himself, or him wearing an outfit that you don’t really like. But giving him independence will help in the long run.
  • Listen to your child – if you're treating him as a baby, he may well tell you. You need to make sure you take note.
  • Don’t hover – let your child know that you're there if needed, but that you’re also giving him the space he needs.

Related links

How to Get Your Child to Listen: Children’s selective hearing is a big source of frustration for parents! A child who is defiant, stubbornly refuses to cooperate and ignores simple requests can make every day feel like an uphill struggle .

Discipline Tips for the Tween Years: Your child has always been an angel and then they arrive... the dreaded tween years. Parenting expert Eileen Hayes has these discipline tips for children aged 7-12

Motor Skill Matters: Many of us will fondly remember the magnitude of our toddler’s mission to learn to jump. There they would stand, elbows bent, before bouncing up and down for the final momentous lift off! Whilst these kinds of skills are small steps for adults, they are giant leaps for toddler-kind. They fall under the umbrella term of ‘motor skills’ and involve a finite co-ordination of specific functions in the brain, bones, muscles and nervous system.

The Off the Hip Technique: Supernanny’s methods are a combination of practical experience and expert advice, giving you the support and confidence to be at your best when your kids need you most. As seen on the show, the Off the Hip Technique can be useful with a child who insists on being carried...

The Roaming Technique: Supernanny’s methods are a combination of practical experience and expert advice, giving you the support and confidence to be at your best when your kids need you most. As used on the show, the Roaming Technique helps stop your toddler wandering off when you're out and about… 

Roaming technique: When the family’s out and about, Blake runs off at every given opportunity, a constant worry to his Mum. This technique gives Blake consequences for not listening to his Mum, so everyone can relax and enjoy the park.

Family Routine: As seen on the Supernanny show, setting up a Family Routine may help your family use time more effectively. Your child will be reassured by the routine's structure, and everyone will know what's expected of them.

Find out more

The Parent Support Service provides practical, professional guidance for common parenting concerns.

From Birth to Five Years: Children's Developmental Progress by Mary D. Sheridan, Marion Frost and Ajay Sharma is an excellent guide for parents concerned about the developmental progress of children from birth to five years of age.

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