Independence is an important way to build self-identity, self-esteem and confidence in children. It also allows children to feel a sense of control in times of stress, change and uncertainty.
Promoting the development of independence in children enables them to become active participants in their own learning as well as active and confident members in their community.
1. Provide Opportunities For Your Child To Be Independent
Children can carry their own lunch boxes, put toys away, put their shoes by the door, and help with chores like putting clean laundry into drawers.
2. Give Your Child Time To Do Simple Tasks On His Own
When planning your family’s schedule, add extra time for things like putting on shoes, walking to the car, emptying a backpack, and feeding the dog. It’s worth it to make them feel capable and independent. Also remember to provide plenty of time to transition from one activity to another; children can’t immediately switch gears like adults can.
3. Offer Your Child Choices
Let her pick out pajamas, healthy snacks, and favorite play activities. Rather than setting up a power struggle between you and your child, empower her to make her own choices.
4. Choose Your Words Wisely
When giving your child a choice, ask a question: “Would you like to put your coat on in the bedroom or in the kitchen?” If something is not a choice, make a statement: “You need to put your coat on before we go outside.” Being as clear as possible about what he can and can’t decide for himself as you support your child’s growth and independence will reduce frustrations for both of you.
5. Avoid Engaging In Daily Power Struggles With Children
Developing independence can mean children do or say the opposite of what an adult asks, just to show their power. If there’s a behavior that’s particularly important to you, be consistent each time a struggle begins, and make your expectations clear. If it’s a daily struggle, try one of the tips in this list to engage your child’s cooperation. For example, if you need to leave right at 7:30 a.m. and every day that’s an issue, consider providing more transition time. Or if you expect your 2year-old to help clean up toys before bed, include a choice such as whether she wants to start with the crayons or the books.
6. Engage And Interact With Your Child
Set him up at the kitchen counter to tear lettuce or break uncooked pasta. Give him a bowl and spoon as you make breakfast. Hop to the bedroom; sing in the car; read favorite books over and over. Share experiences and laughter together.
7. Be Joyful
The experience of delight these children bring should not be overlooked. Smile, dance, laugh, and show her you love her. Splash each other at the pool. Have a dance party in the kitchen. Children are so much fun!
8. Create A Routine
While you don’t need to set exact times for activities, children like to know what’s going to happen next. Always read two books before bed, for example. Always wave out the window at child care drop-off. Having a predictable routine fosters children’s independence because they know what’s happening next, which helps avoid surprises, struggles, and tantrums.
Read also: Ways You Can Promote Child Safety At Home
9. Respect Your Child As A Person
Tell him what’s going to happen today: “I’m picking you up right after nap today.” Let him know what’s happening next: “After breakfast, we’ll get you dressed.” Give cues: “We’ll start putting the blocks away in a few minutes.” And give him the opportunity to do it for himself: “Do you want to put your socks on by yourself?” Respect your child as an individual.
10. Children Are Learning All The Time.
They learn through their play, so be sure to give your child lots of time for both indoor and outdoor play experiences. Blocks, animal figures, dress-up clothes, cardboard boxes, bubbles, sticks, leaves, balls, and interesting kitchen utensils (pots and pans, empty spice containers)—these can all be exciting tools for learning through play.
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