How to Teach Your Child to Be Independent

There are numerous ways to train your child to be independent and still enjoy his childhood the way he deserves.

1. Give Him Responsibilities He Can Handle

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Photo: Firstcryparenting

Your child does not need to start handling the finances of the house and make big decisions. Independence needs to begin from the self and that is where you can help your child. If you are planning a picnic and need your child to help you out with it, give him simple tasks such as making a list of items you might need or going ahead and packing his own bag for a short weekend trip you might be taking.

2. Avoid Hand-Holding Your Child

Many parents confuse guidance with hand-holding and constantly intervene in the child’s actions if he is doing something wrong or is taking longer than needed. When your child is young, it is good to guide your child with some instructions or open-ended suggestions that inform him of the possibility that the task can be completed in an easier way. But as he grows up, let him come to you if he needs help, rather than intervening needlessly.

3. Introduce Choices With Limited Options

Asking your child what he would like to eat at a restaurant can get quite overwhelming for him since the restaurant menu is quite expansive. Instead, pick a bunch of options from the menu and ask him to choose from the selected options. Starting off with a limited array can help him make a choice easily and prepare him for newer ones.

4. Let Your Child Make His Own Decisions At Times

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Photo: smartparenting

You might prefer to have your child do his homework before he goes out to play. But he might prefer playing first then completing his homework. Allow your child some degree of freedom in smaller aspects, such as choosing what to wear or what snack to eat in the evening. And as long as he does what he promises, you shouldn’t have a problem.

5. Have Empathy Towards Your Child

Your child is just learning to be independent, so it won’t be easy for him. Avoid scolding him or putting him down, even if he fails to do something that is quite simple. Be there to support him and help him out if he asks for it, without judging him.

6. Don’t Make Failures a Big Issue

There will be times when your child might fail at something, and obviously, he will be disappointed. Comfort him and let him know that it’s okay to fail. Teach him to learn from those failures, get up and try again. He might even repeat them despite your warnings. It’s okay, let him learn from his mistakes. Do let your child know what he could have done better, but don’t connect the failure with him. This can hamper his self-esteem tremendously.

7. Teach Your Child to Solve Problems Independently

Be it school-related problems or any issues he might have with siblings or friends, let your child know that certain problems have to be resolved by him and you can’t help him with those. Guide him if needed by providing him with a different perspective of the situation.

8. Establish a Proper Routine

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Photo: Firstcryparenting

Children can have trouble making decisions for themselves if they don’t think sequentially. This can be easily handled by establishing a fixed routine for them. Once your kid knows what needs to be done on a particular day and at a particular time, he will start doing it all by himself.

Most kids do best when they have routines in place. A good routine will help them know what they need to do in a specific order.

A morning routine, for example, might involve:

  • Getting dressed
  • Combing their hair
  • Washing their face
  • Eating breakfast
  • Brushing their teeth
  • Packing their backpack

An after school routine might involve:

  • Eating a snack
  • Enjoying 30 minutes of screen time
  • Doing homework
  • Doing chores
  • Eating dinner
  • Playing a game
  • Taking a bath
  • Putting on pajamas
  • Brushing their teeth
  • Reading a book
  • Going to sleep

9. Teach Negotiation

Many children tend to start viewing the world as a win and lose proposition. Open up your child to the world of compromise and negotiation and he will start understanding to make the best of the situation that is presented before him. He can either choose the picnic location or the picnic lunch but he cannot do both. This will help him prioritise his own preferences, too.

10. Don’t Forget to Encourage

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Photo: Today's Parents

When your child does the things he promised in the right way and all by himself, don’t hesitate to tell him how proud he makes you. Positive feedback is essential in shaping your child’s personality the right way and the validation of parents goes a long way in that regard.

There’s quite a difference between making toddlers independent and teaching them to do certain activities by themselves. But once your child gets used to the environment at school, you can ask him to do the simple activities by himself. These can slowly sow the seeds of independence in him, according to firstcryparenting.

11. Offer Incentives

Reward your kids for being independent. Create a sticker chart with a preschooler who is working on sleeping in their own bed. Earning a sticker every morning might be incentive enough to help motivate them to be like a big kid.

For an older child, offer a weekly reward. You might say, “If you get your room clean and your homework done before dinner every night, you can invite a friend to come over on Saturday.”

12. Invest Time Into Teaching

It’s easier to do most tasks yourself rather than teach your child how to do them. And it’s never easy to watch your child struggle to do something that you could easily step in and do yourself.

But think about the time you spend teaching your child how to complete a task independently as an investment. When you put time into showing your child how to clean the kitchen or how to vacuum the living room now, you’ll spend less time doing those tasks yourself down the road, cites verywellfamily.

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