There comes a time in every parent’s journey when they realize their little one is ready to spread their wings and fly. Not necessarily fly away, but assert their independence. And as a parent, it’s sometimes hard to come to terms with this new stage. Other kids might want to be more independent, but have a hard time getting there. This will likely lead some parents to wonder how to help your kid become more independent. Even though you might not want to help your child gain the tools he or she needs to no longer need you, it’s important for them to be able to have those tools.
According to Psychology Today, it’s important for kids to assert their independence because it can help their development later on in life. Kids who are more independent are more motivated later in life because their independence forces them to figure out their own solutions. And showing your confidence in your child figuring things out for him or herself can, in turn, give them more confidence. It’s like a revolving door of independence and confidence that are both essential to your child’s development.
But to get to that point, first you might need to know how to help your kid become more independent. And there are a few key things you can do to promote your child’s independence in a healthy way.
Teach Them Little Tricks To Get Them Started
While it’s important to promote independence, you should still teach your child the little tricks all kids learn at some point in order to allow them to do things for themselves. Like the bunny ears technique when typing shoes or the upside down flip coat method to help them get their coat on without any help. You can also help your kid learn how to zip and button their clothes so they will need your help with that aspect less and less.
Give Them Extra Time
When your kid is getting ready in the morning to performing a chore designated to them, try to keep your impatience in check. It’s easy to expect them to get something done as efficiently as you might, but if you allot extra time, neither of you will be disappointed. In the morning, give them 10 extra minutes to brush their teeth or get dressed and pack their backpack before school. When your kid is first learning how to be independent, he or she will definitely need that extra time.
Continuously Encourage Them
While your child is learning how to do certain tasks on his or her own, it’s important for them to hear continuous positive reinforcement. Encourage your child to keep trying at something or praise them when they get it right. Even if they don’t get it perfect the second or third time, keep the mood positive to help encourage your child to keep trying until they get it right or close to right.
Try Not To Interfere
As hard as it might be to not step in when your child is washing the dishes as their chore, it’s important to control yourself. If you can keep yourself from interfering with their independent task just to get it done more quickly, it can help them continue on their own. In some ways, kids will learn very little about independence if someone steps in to help them or take over to do it themselves.
Don’t Use “But” When You Give Praise
It can also be difficult to not add a “but” in the middle of your sentence when you are assessing your child’s job with their task at hand. But in doing so, it can negate anything positive you said before it. So instead of saying something like, “Your shoes are tied, but they are on the wrong feet,” praise them for tying their shoes and gently point out that they forgot to think about their left and right shoes and corresponding feet.
Designate Specific Chores You Know They Can Do
When your child is just starting to learn some independence, it’s best not to start them off with difficult chores that might overwhelm them. But if you consider their age and what they are individually capable of, it can be easier to assign chores to promote independence. So designate chores that each age group of kids can reasonably do. For kids from ages four to six, feeding pets and putting away laundry, dishes and silverware, with supervision of course, are reasonable chores they could confidently do on their own. Older kids can wash dishes on their own and even start to complete more difficult yard work chores.
Know The Difference Between Recklessness And Independence
While it is important for your kid to be independent, there is a line you have to be sure they don’t cross. So while you might trust them to put on their bike helmet with no help, they might take this independent task as a sign that they can choose if they even want to wear a helmet at all. Just because you give your child independence, it doesn’t man they don’t also still need supervision and guidance along the way.
By taking the time to encourage independence in your child once they are ready, you are setting them up for success throughout their childhood and later in life. It doesn’t mean your kid won’t need you anymore, but at some point, they are going to need to learn to do things on their own and handle life in their own way. If you can set them up with the right tools now, you will have done your job as their parent.