5 Ways to Build Independence in Your Child
As a parent, you just want the best for your little one. This can make it difficult to watch them struggle with hard feelings and experiences, but it’s the challenges that will turn your children into healthy, happy, and functioning adults. Here are five ways to support your child in building independence.
1) Let them do things themselves – even when they do them wrong
When you’re short on time and patience, it can be frustrating to watch your child take 20 minutes to put on their outfit and brush their hair. You may also be reluctant to get their help with dinner. If you have to monitor what they’re doing or help them do it, that quick 30-minute weeknight dinner recipe can easily take an hour or more of your time.
Try to carve out extra time in your day for these tasks, as learning by doing is one of the most important ways for your children to develop independence. It also helps them build confidence in their ability to try new things. Sure, that can of diced tomatoes may end up on the floor, but the next time your child goes to pour it into the pot, she’ll be less likely to miss.
2) Allow them to spend time away from home
Being away from home for the first time can be just as tough for children as it is for parents. First-time separation can bring up feelings of trepidation and uncertainty.
Despite this, signing your kids up for school residential trips or holiday camps will help them learn that they can be self-sufficient and don’t need mum and dad to be with them every step of the way.
3) Get them involved in volunteering
Teaching your children the value of giving to the community without expecting compensation in return helps them see beyond their own needs and gain a broader perspective of the world. Whether you sign up the family to work in a soup kitchen or animal rescue, they’ll reap the many benefits of volunteering, including gaining independence.
4) Encourage them to develop their own opinions
Whether consciously or subconsciously, parents tend to pass their own opinions on to their kids. While you undoubtedly want your children to have good values and become kind people, differing opinions that do not hurt others should be encouraged.
Teaching your child that their beliefs are valid helps them build confidence in themselves and become independent thinkers and decision-makers.
5) Praise them when they do a good job
Although a big part of raising independent children is letting them learn, try new things, and at times fail, you can still be there to provide them with love and support along the way. When they make good decisions and develop new skills, give them positive feedback to reinforce what a good job they’ve done. Evidence of their success will spur them on to keep trying and failing. After all, as Brene Brown says, the purpose of life isn’t to always succeed. It’s about having the bravery to enter the arena and keep showing up, even when you fail. Children who learn this lesson early on are much more likely to live an independent and fulfilling life.
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