How do we develop independence in our kidsAn inquisitive boy happened across a chrysalis, hanging on a branch, as he explored a tree at the local park. He was alarmed that the caterpillar appeared trapped.

He needed to act quickly if he was going to rescue the caterpillar from it’s unfair imprisonment, by breaking open the confines and setting it free. The boy was just in time to save the day in order that the caterpillar could complete it’s transformation and emerge as a beautiful butterfly.

The boy’s mum, seeing how heartbroken her boy was, reassured him by explaining that it was a natural part of the metamorphosis. She explained that if he was to break the caterpillar free, it would not have the strength in its wings to allow it to fly. The boy, reluctantly left it alone.

A few days later, the boy returned with his mother to that same tree to check on the caterpillar, and to his surprise all that remained was the empty casing that had once held the grub.

Despite the boy’s best intentions, his loving mother knew her son could do nothing to alleviate the struggle that was up ahead for the caterpillar. Her son was still concerned about what the butterfly had to endure, so she explained. “You have the most beautiful heart my son. While you had the greatest aspirations for your little friend, it would have been detrimental for you to break open the cocoon. The butterfly would not have built the strength it needed in its wings to leave the branch and fly. The butterfly needed to break through on its own so that it was able to soar to great heights.”

As parents, it is incredibly distressing to watch as your child encounters their own battles and heartbreaking to wipe the tears of disappointment that come from the disagreements and misunderstandings that occur from time to time between friends. Though we hope that our kids will enjoy a childhood free of conflict and animosity this unfortunately is not a reality. Yet there is much we can learn from the boy and his butterfly.

Children benefit from adopting the skills they need in order to resolve their own conflicts. It is only by solving their own squabbles that they develop the skills that they need to grow and change. Jumping in to save them, does nothing to assist them to learn how to straighten out their own predicaments.

Next time your child comes to you to talk about a dispute they are having, give them your time. Listen to all that is upsetting them. Ask them how they think they can rectify the problem themselves. Give them the confidence and strategies necessary to broker their own truce. This helps your child to find strength in their wings.

Every time they find their own solution they build a greater belief in their own abilities and deeper levels of resilience. This independence is an important force that empowers your child with the ability to spread their own wings so they too can take flight.