How Can We Help Children to Be More Independent?
Independence can sometimes be a double-edged sword for parents. On the one hand, it is great that your child does not need you to do everything; on the other hand, he or she can sometimes be too independent, and we just want them to need us more or rely on us more.
What can you do to help your child in being more independent? How can you create a balance between being totally dependent and completely independent? How do you know when it is time for him or her to take the next step towards independence?
For some children, these questions are answered naturally, without any help from their parents. They just find their way, while others might need a little push in the right direction.
Let’s look at some practical tips on how you can help your kids become independent children and grow up to be self-sufficient adults.
Teach Children to Do Things for Themselves
Start small with little kids. Having them cut their own food or tie their own shoes is a basic skill that would get them on their way to learning how to take care of themselves. As they grow up, give them more small tasks but be careful not to overwhelm your toddlers.
Teach Them how To Cook a Few Simple Dishes
Learning this life skill is essential for independence. Start by asking them to help you around the kitchen. Watching you cook will cultivate their curiosity and start to ask you if they can do some steps themselves. As they learn and you think they are ready to do it themselves, teach them how to cook simple dishes like eggs and grilled cheese. As they get better, you slowly move forward by assigning them more tasks in helping you in the kitchen.
Teach Your Kids how To Do Household Chores
Ask your kids to help you with chores. Complicated chores with multiple steps is a great place to start. Let them understand the importance of the task they are in charge of and that the whole process is dependent on the completion of that task. Take, for example, doing the laundry; assign them a small task like sorting the colors from the whites and show them how important that step is. This will give them the sense of being depended on.
For older kids to teenagers, a nice trick is the “chore for money” idea. Set up a house rule about trading chores for chores or money. This will teach them the value of work, money, and time; and also pave the way to financial independence. Just make sure you don’t
Hire them to do all your chores, lead by example, and don’t be lazy.
Let Them Decide What They Want to Wear and Eat.
Start with having them pick out their clothes for the day under your supervision. Make sure you don’t cramp their style, they could look ridiculous, but if they feel good about it, it’s not your place to judge. Just make sure you let them know if what they picked out was inappropriate, like short pants, cowboy boots, sleeveless flannel, and an astronaut’s helmet is all good, but it’s not good for a day out during winter.
Don’t Force Them to Share with Other Kids if They Don’t Want To
This may seem a bit rude, but it’s a good way to teach them to be respectful and responsible for themselves. It also gives them the opportunity to make decisions on their own. And honestly, if you think that they should share even if they don’t want to, stop that mindset. It’s their toy truck, and they hold it dearly, and the thought of having a kid they just met put their dirty hands on them could be quite scary for anyone. How would you react if someone you just met at the bar asked to borrow your truck?
Encourage Them to Try New Things on Their Own
Get your kids to try something new. We said encourage, not force them. Keep the doors open on every opportunity for children to learn and try new things. This may start with you by their side but slowly let them do those things themselves.
Give Your Child an Opportunity Every Day for Self-Directed Playtime.
Give them a little bit of freedom in deciding what to play and how to play it. Just make sure that they are in a safe environment.
Some parents would say that it’s not good to praise kids for doing what is expected of them, but we beg to differ. They are kids, and you should not expect them to do anything but their best. And their best deserves praise and recognition. Give them a bonus hug and kiss or reward when they go through every hurdle on their road to independence. And also, gently make them understand that every decision and action they make comes with either reward or consequences. Slowly introduce the concept of responsibility and accountability.
And Finally: you should understand that independence is not something they can learn overnight. It took years for some people, and some adults are, in some way, still dependent on their parents, be it emotionally or financially. And it’s not always a bad thing; there are some parent and child relationships that are co-dependent.
So, remember, be gentle and patient if they can’t be independent by the time they are ten years old. Give them all the attention they need and all the hugs they want while you still can. If they get too independent too soon, you may not get as much time with them. So, have a great day with the kids!