7 Tips for Teaching Your Kid to be More Independent
Do you remember the first time you felt a true sense of independence?
Maybe it was the first time you got to sleep over at your friend’s house.
Or, maybe it was when you finally turned 16 and got your own car…
I’ll never forget the pure joy I felt when I was finally able to drive myself places…
No more asking mom or dad if they could spare a few moments to give me a ride.
Whatever your first taste of independence was like, it was probably a joyous moment in your life.
And, your kids will one day experience that same sense of joy and accomplishment.
However, with independence also comes great responsibility.
They must be responsible enough to drive the car carefully, they have to let you know where they are at all times…
Independence is fun but it is also a chore.
Your child will need their independence not only while they are growing and developing, but also throughout the rest of their life as they age and grow their own family.
Doing things like grocery shopping, doing the dishes, paying bills and more are all also a part of independence…
Therefore, to ensure our children are strong, contributing members of society, it is important that we foster a strong sense of independence in them at a young age so that they are able to one day go out and take on the world on their own.
How do you teach them to be independent?
Independence is something you picture more of as being a personality trait…
Some kids are just that way – they don’t need or want mom and dad to help them, they simply think they can do it on their own.
But, while independence can be a personality trait, it can also be taught by:
1. Identifying opportunities for independence.
Start by making a list of things your child could be doing by themselves – making their bed, brushing their teeth, or maybe even doing the dishes.
Then, ask her which duties they feel comfortable doing on their own – it might increase their willingness to try as an attempt to impress you.
2. Make the important things priority.
Take it one step at a time – don’t give them a list of tasks and expect them to just complete them all.
Determine which ones are most important and tackle one task at a time.
This also teaches them to prioritize and make lists which are valuable to success and to avoid getting overwhelmed.
3. Give them enough time to complete the task at hand.
Sometimes as a busy parent it can be hard to not just step in and do the task yourself as a means of getting it done faster…
Your child might be able to brush their own teeth but it might take them five minutes and it only takes you two.
However, allowing them enough time to complete the task at hand is important.
If it takes them five minutes to brush their teeth, start getting up five minutes earlier.
4. Give them notice.
Let your child know what is going on…
Try something to the effect of, “I think you are ready to do some big-kid jobs!”
Independence takes on a whole new meaning when a child understands it as being granted the ability and freedom to do a big-kid job.
Who doesn’t want to be a big kid, right?
5. Don’t expect perfection.
Start by accepting that although they might complete the task at hand, they probably won’t complete it as well as you.
If you enlist their help making brownies and they spill the milk, show them how to clean it up rather than getting angry, cleaning it up, and ordering them out of the kitchen.
Patience is a virtue.
6. Negotiate a compromise.
Sometimes they still want your help or at least to know they aren’t alone doing the big-kid tasks…
It can be as simple as doing the laundry together – you fold shirts and they fold pants.
7. Praise something, anything.
Instead of criticizing all the things they did wrong, find at least one thing to praise them for doing well.
Try using something like personalized stickers from Wunderlabel to keep track of their accomplishments. These can be used to mark the successful completion of a task.
The compliment can then be followed by a positive follow-up or constructive criticism such as “You did so great putting your own shoes on! I am sure tomorrow you will be able to even get them on the right feet.”
When teaching your children anything – but especially independence – it is all about finding a balance.
Most children don’t do good when they are just thrown into something. Find ways to ease them into independent tasks by showing them how to do things better rather than just criticizing and always offering some sort of positive feedback.
Now, what are you waiting for? Your child is dying to get started on their first big-kid task and all they need is your direction and encouragement!