7 Things Moms Can Do to Promote Their Child’s Independence

While you may wish your child could stay small forever, the reality is that he or she is going to grow up, like it or not. And growing up means that your child needs to learn the skills required to be an independent adult. Here are seven tips to help your children gain independence.

7 Things Moms Can Do to Promote Their Child’s Independence

  • Teach your children that separation is OK. When opportunities arise, show your child that it's acceptable to sometimes be alone, calmly disagree with another’s opinion, or want personal time.
  • Set up both structured and unstructured alone time. Clearly, children need to have structured time when adults are in charge of the entertainment. But unstructured time is equally important. Within boundaries, give your child choices on how to entertain himself and then leave him alone. For example, you might say: “It’s your time now. You can read a book, work a puzzle, play a video game or play with the cat.” Give your children more unstructured time and more choices as they get older.
  • Show, don’t do. As tempting as it is to simply do something for your child yourself, it’s better to show them how and then let them try. You may have to repeat the demonstration several times before the child can do it, but thanks to your efforts, your child will begin to do things on his or her own rather than always relying on you.
  • Add an extra 10-15 minutes for each activity where you want your child to exhibit independence. For example, build in extra time in the morning for the child to get ready for school. This extra time means that they have a better chance of completing tasks such as getting dressed or packing their lunch on their own. Your child will feel successful and you’ll save some headaches in the long of having to help out.
  •  Help only when needed. Of course you want your child to learn to do things on his or her own, but if your child is getting frustrated after numerous failed attempts to finish a task, then by all means pitch in to give him or her the help they need. After more practice and more demonstrations from you, your child will eventually get the hang of the task.
  • Make it clear to your child that you expect him or her to do certain things independently. Children sometimes don’t like to do certain things simply because they are hard. But that’s exactly when they should be taught to try their best before asking for help.
  • Ask for your child's input on small tasks. In doing so, your child will learn that his or her opinion is important to you. Be sure, however, to follow through with his or her suggestions in order to help his or her self-esteem grow, not drop. Also be sure to encourage your child to continue the behavior by saying something such as “That was a great idea for organizing the pantry. It’s so much easier to find things now!”

 

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