We often worry about how our children turn out because their successes and failure reflect on us. In as much as the world teaches our children all about the real life, how we raise our little angels is just as important to how they turn out later in life.
An independent child is confident, organized, resourceful, a planner and an excellent problem solver with a high self-esteem. Who wouldn’t want that for their kid (s)?
But, how do you do it?
How do you carve out a path that makes your son or daughter his own man or woman? How do you stop parenting to get through the day but parent for your lessons to stick through a child’s lifetime?
7 Tips to Teach Your Child Independence
1. Let them choose
Did you know that a child trained to be independent early in life has a greater desire to achieve greatness in and out of school? According to Ph.D., Karen Berberian, a child psychologist at St, Christopher’s Hospital for children, this is true.
So, rather than picking up your child’s outfit, let he or she pick out what they’d wish to wear. This opportunity to choose between two or more options lets our children know that they can have their ideas and stand by them because, their ideas matter.
Dr. Tovah Klein, the author of How Toddlers Thrive, says that giving our children little control helps in building their decision-making skills and their independence too. You have to be patient as he or she tries to decide.
2. Create an environment that fosters independence
Sometimes, we stunt our children’s potential to be independent at an early age. Even though it feels great to be needed, you should not make your home unfriendly to independence. You can make your home friendly by having many stools to choose from or getting light switch extenders for him or her to switch off their lights.
Small chairs and tables encourage kids to do their artwork or homework. You will also note that snack preparation isn’t as hard when your child can reach the table with ease. You may also want to organize all toys for fast access.
At the same time, you may want to have children-friendly activities within their reach always. Drawers with easy-to-reach arts and crafts materials mean your child will get it and get on with their project. You can also create secret spots with materials for different activities.
3. Have a routine
Never thought of this one, right? Well, just like us, our children need a sense of direction to function. Morning, workday, weekend, mealtime, or bedtime routines give children direction. It is easy to go through the motions when you know what is coming next, right?
Dr. Klein reiterates that “Young children like to know how things are going to happen because it helps them feel like they have little control.” The sense of control makes a child learn how to be independent. To stick to the routine easily, carve out extra time for mornings as they dress.
4. Let your child help
How many times have we politely declined the offer to help from our kids? We think that they are too young but, even though they cannot assist in a big way, letting them take up small roles builds their independence.
Maybe, your child could dress themselves if you let them reducing the need to rush out every morning. This is a hard one, but, when eating, let your child pick out what he or she want to eat from their plate. Remember the ‘little control’ mentioned above?
5. Praise wisely
Did your child do something deserving a pat on the back? Praise him or her! When a compliment is earned, and it is genuine, you’ll realize that it is a great confidence builder. Give praise when he or she succeeds at something the first time.
Be cautious not to overdo it because it will make your child without any yardstick to measure their achievements.
6. Let then clean up after themselves
Responsibility and independence go hand in hand. To build these two, let him or her clean up their mess. Get a cleaning set with all cleaning requirements.
When your child has access to the cleaning supplies, they will clean up messes created by their art projects, and you may never know of some of the spills. Not out of fear but, from your initial prompting for messes to be cleaned up instantly.
As Michael Thompson writes in Parents.com, the growth, and independence seen in our children happen in our absence. That sounds like a stab in the back, doesn’t it? In as much as we don’t see everything they do, the little control and access make them better individuals.
7. Don’t try to solve their minor problems
If your child is sick, tired, stressed, or you just moved into a new house, you may want to give some space for recovery or adaptation. If your child feels overwhelmed in the new environment, you may offer to help with half the load. It will encourage them and they’ll bounce back.
You will have to relax for this to happen. Relaxing means letting that spill linger for a few minutes as your child picks themselves up and wipes the spill.
Therefore, do not rush into solving minor issues. According to Jeanne Williams, a psychologist, encouraging your child to come up with solutions to a problem before you chip in will help build their problem-solving skills.
Independent children are admirable and your child can be too if you follow the advice above. When it comes to your pre-teens, don’t be afraid of letting them attend summer camp or a scouts camping trip. These events mold your child. It is hard to let go but, too much mothering won’t make your child independent.
You should also remember to always be there for your child to build their self-esteem which leads to their self-reliance later on.
Catherine Anderson is a mother of two, a full-time blogger on Parentinn which concentrated on positive parenting advices. You can also find interesting tips for new parent, comprehensive reviews of baby products. You can find her blogging over at www.parentinn.com or connect with her on Twitter.