4 Stumbling Blocks to Self Reliance

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fears are storiesWhile it is great to have others around us to push and encourage us to take on a task or a new skill,  there are 4 stumbling blocks that can makes us feel less confident when those encouraging words are not around.  They are (1) Fear, (2) Laziness, (3) Negative people, (4) Negative self talk.

Fear – The two fears that can sum up all others are fear of failure and fear of not being enough.  It is this fear of failure that attacks many of us, thinking that we would be embarrassed in front of others, or that we may be laughed at, or we may be ‘perfectionist” and are afraid we will not be able to master the task quick enough.  Finally there can be the fear of success also.  With this fear we are concerned about the added responsibility that will come with our success.

How to overcome these fears will be discussed in detail at our upcoming Parent Coaching Series on Optimism.  But ultimately our belief of the results of the task or what has or might happen affects our response.

Laziness – This seems to be such a harsh word, but sometimes we try to find the easy way out or get others to do for us.  We have to be careful too, of asking others to do for us what we could do for ourselves.  This can become a habit – even with children.

Overcome this habit is first to be aware and ask ourselves, could I do this on my own?  If so step up and complete the task.

Negative people – Unknowingly and certainly not on purpose adults many times will tell children that they cannot do something that they are dreaming about.  Imagine if a child had a dream of raising a large sum of money for a charitable cause and the adults around them told them, “that’s nice – but you can’t do that.”  It starts a process of negative thinking in the child.  When others tell us we cannot do something it affects the way we think about ourselves and abilities.

Surround yourself with those who ask more of yourself than you do.

Negative self talk – Sometimes we tell ourselves we cannot do something even before we try.  reducing our own fear of failure is to know that everyone – even well intentioned and good people – make mistakes.  Increased tolerance of our own mistakes, limitations and miscues will help us from putting ourselves down as not able to accomplish tasks.

Learn the A,B, C’s of Optimism  (On March 12 at 5:30 the Parent Coaching Series will discuss this subject)

So what are some new tasks that you might be willing to try?  Is there something that would make a big difference in your life that you have feared starting or you told yourself you could not do?  Are you willing to talk to yourself in a different way and go for it?

Self Reliance & the Challenge For Parents

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confident martial arts childSelf reliance and resiliency go hand in hand. Instilling this sense of self reliance in our children requires that we know when to step in and when to step back. We want to build the independence and encourage our children to explore without fear of failing, but at the same time not push them too fast for where they are developmentally. This is quite a balancing act and as a parent or teacher we will get it right sometimes and we will make some mistakes along the way also.

The challenge for the parents is being able to watch our children struggle with a task without stepping in, taking over, and being overly involved, to the point of not allowing them to develop resiliency and self reliance. When they do succeed – on their own – they gain confidence and learn that they can do it by themselves.  If we step in too soon, too often, we risk their ability to learn these beliefs about themselves.  Research is showing that over involved parenting may lead to higher levels of depression and anxiety in children and teens.

I believe sometimes the term “we are building self esteem” is not accurate. Is it us as parents building self esteem, or are we allowing them to grow and thrive?   Their faith in themselves to be able to achieve and do things, even if they fail in the beginning multiple times, comes from parents allowing the failure to take place, encouraging them with our belief in them and their abilities, coaching (but not doing for) them and celebrating the small incremental improvements.   Parents and teachers will want to help students learn to have positive self talk – telling themselves – “I can do it” for the times that others are not around to encourage them to press on.

Our children have a need for autonomy and this need grows as they get older. We can create opportunities for them to believe in themselves and become independent over time, as they grow into confident, resilient, self reliant young adults.

Are we more dependent than ever before?

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confusedWith more technology available to all of us than ever before, it may seem that we have become more self reliant. I can remember a time even as an adult that I could not type, but with the advent of the personal computer, I now do things for myself, that in the past I would have passed on to others to do.

This raises the question though if with all of this new ‘self reliance’, are we really there or have we become more dependent in other ways – phones with us all the time, concern about who or how many ‘likes’ we have or comments on our posts. I have found myself concerned, that as I write many blog posts – are they being read, am I reaching the audience?

While we benefit from all of the advances in technology – we may want to ask ourselves – How is my personal growth? Personal growth is a measuring tool for self reliance. Am I growing in a way that I trust my own judgements on matters, or am I too concerned about what others are doing or what they will think or approve of. Am I learning to trust in my own powers and abilities to try something new? When a course of action is not getting the results we are looking for – do we trust that we can try a new way of approaching the situation?

Even though asking for help is a great idea –  and then using those new skills, thoughts and decision making abilities to get the job done.

Tips For Teaching Self Reliance to Children

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i can do itSeveral years ago when we first introduced the concept of self-reliance to our students, I realized I had some work to do in this area. It is funny how you know what others need – but when you look deeply at yourself, you may see that you personally have the same needs. I realized that I was more than willing to ask others to do things for me that I was perfectly capable of completing – ( I called it delegating) – but really it was giving away what I was responsible for myself.

To build self reliance in our children, we have to as parents, stop doing things for them that they are able to do themselves. We can help build this character trait in our child in both school and in life with a few simple tips.

  1. Provide responsibilities – All children need chores or a way to contribute to the family, for them to learn responsibility and to learn that they can do things on their on. Beyond household chores they are responsible for their school work too. In any event, it is the completion of responsibilities on their own that creates self reliance.
  2. Organization – it is key that they have a schedule, a workplace, possibly a checklist, before starting work on a project. Help them to keep all of this in one place, and they can begin their work independently from start to end. This step can be done with household chores or school work.
  3. Chunking their work – Breaking up any goal into smaller tasks and checking them off, helps them to see their progress that they are making on a larger project. You will have to show them how to think that way, make their list and concentrate on the smaller individual areas one at a time.
  4. Use a timer – Set the timer and have them work independently for a designated amount of time – without asking questions, getting up or talking – this is their time to work on the project. When the timer goes off they can choose to continue or get up and move around or ask questions. Check to see the progress they have made and see if anything can be checked off the task list.

Finally, making mistakes is the OK. Do not hurry in to fix the bed that is not perfectly made, or the homework that is not as good as you would have done (it is not your homework). Practice leads to learning and mastery. Praise the effort, the initiative and find one good thing to praise.

Based on my own experience, I am thinking that there are probably some of us adults that could put these tips into action for ourselves.  I did!

Life Skills: Self-Reliance – The Definition

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Teaching Children Life SkillsEach month we will discuss a life skill with all of our students. This month the word is Self – Reliance.  This word will be defined in the following ways for our students.




Young students: Self – Reliance means: “I can do it by myself!”

Older students: Self – Reliance means:  Self-trust; relying on your own judgments, powers or abilities to get things done.

Each age group has a worksheet that parents can use to continue the discussion at home with their children, and one for adults to allow them to think more deeply about the skill and how it applies to them. Would you like to receive the worksheet? Stop by our studio at 133 Gibralter Avenue in Annapolis, MD and tell us the age of your child. We will give you a worksheet and invite you to watch Mr. Joe discuss the word with the students in class.  You can also follow our discussions here on this website.

If you would like to become a member of Balanced Life Skills, come TRY CLASSES FOR FREE.   We are not your typical martial arts school, in fact we are an education center, working with our students on physical skills along with empowering families with compassion, awareness and respect. We believe in every child and build their self – confidence.  Balanced Life Skills takes part in community service and encourages each student to do the same.

Come in and talk to the parents that are here and watch the class for the age group you are interested in.  Learn about the Balanced Life Skills Way.

The Highest Level of Self Reliance

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Teaching character and life skills to students

We have spoken this month about how proud we are of our efforts and accomplishment when we do something on our own for the first time.  Whether we are a child or an adult, when we have made the time and put in the effort to learn a new skill, and then show we can do it on our own, it is reason for celebration.

But the next level of self reliance is even more important.  The highest level of self reliance is practicing our new skill or doing what we have learned, without someone having to tell us to do so.  In the case of children, we see them work very hard to learn to make their bed or brush their teeth, but after some time of doing this skill they may slack off when the praise and novelty wears off.  Now they have to be told, Make your bed, brush your teeth, pick up your toys, get dressed for school, etc…

The ultimate level of self reliance is not just being able to perform an act, but to practice it on your own without having to be reminded, asked, or begged to do what you already know how to do.  This is not just a child’s quality that needs to be developed.  When preparing this month for this word, I thought about how many things that I put off, do not practice or ask others to do – that I know perfectly well how to do and should be doing.  This month I have been working at developing my own self reliance and trying to make it at the higher level – not waiting for someone to ask me,but rather just doing it.  Talk to your children and yourself about this higher level of self reliance.  It is a good reminder for us and them, and will be pleasing to our spouses and work partners.