Letting go of children as they grow and begin to spread their wings can be very difficult for parents, whose instincts are to protect them and to be there for them at all times.
Not so long ago, kids walked to school and played outside.
Nowadays, youngsters are more likely to be found engrossed in technology, or being shuttled from one organised activity to another by Mum’s taxi.
At Barracudas, youngsters who come to our camps often experience their first taste of independence away from their usual surroundings.
And mums and dads can feel the separation more keenly than their offspring.
But it’s in the safe and supportive environment we provide, away from their parents and their normal peer group, that we see them really come into their own.
We live in the age of the ‘tiger mum’ who is constantly pushing her children academically, but micro-managing their lives to the point where they can’t make decisions for themselves.
Or there’s the ‘helicopter parent’ – always hovering, controlling and cosseting their offspring, who studies have found are more likely to suffer anxiety later in life.
Of course, parents are just trying to help. Letting go of your child in a world filled with perceived dangers can be difficult.
So how can we get the balance right? When should parents let go?
According to Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How To Raise An Adult, it’s never too late to give them an age-appropriate level of freedom.
She says: “Mistakes or failures should be viewed as your child’s greatest teacher. Whether it’s coming last in something or flunking an exam, see this as their chance to get ready for adulthood – where things won’t always go their way.”
She suggests checking, at each stage of their young lives, that children are on track to accomplish basic skills – and if not, train them.
By the age of seven, children should be able to help cook meals and make their beds. By nine, they should know simple sewing, how to take out the rubbish and fold and put away their clothes. At 13, they are a good age to start ironing clothes, use basic hand tools and mow the lawn.
Ask children questions to help them work out their own solutions. Instead of constantly directing them, ask what they think they should do to solve a problem. It’s likely they will come up with a more practical, age-appropriate solution.
Julie adds: “Our kids need to be there for themselves. Do too much for them and we make them feel like failures.
“Young people should be given free time and space to think. They should have chores to help build their work ethic but, if they fail at a task, parents should not rush in to help.
Make Barracudas your first step in letting go of your kids. Find your nearest camp and book their place today.