One of the scariest milestones for me is the day my child decides they can pour their own glass of milk. It usually happens around the age of 3-4 and I cringe inwardly as they reach for that gallon of milk. I envision the counter and the floor that I will have to clean if they are unsuccessful. I think of the change of clothes it may involve too. I don’t love messes! But I do love my kids doing for themselves so I let it happen (I also make sure the gallon of milk is less than half full).

Fostering independence in your child might be one of the hardest parts of parenting because it means you stand back, wait, and watch without intervening. As parents, we are so used to doing everything that not doing something can be challenging for us, but the end result of learning a new skill is so rewarding for our children and ultimately for us. So stand back and be amazed by all the things your child can accomplish!

 

Teach Them

Teaching a child independence can take many different forms. It will vary by what you are teaching them and how your individual child learns. Some lessons will be a demonstration like learning to tie your shoes or use a vacuum, while others may take a checklist like teaching them to pack a bag or clean a bathroom. It is important that when your child or you feel they are ready to take on a new role that you give them the tools to succeed.

 

Give Them Choices

Giving a child choices gives them confidence that later on in life will help them make adult decisions. Some choices could include what they want to do that day or which household task they would like to try. The options are limitless, but the opportunity to make a choice and be supported by it will pay off in dividends later in life.

 

Let them Do it

It is important to give kids the opportunity to try things. Let them try to fold laundry. Obviously, it won’t be perfect the first time they fold a towel or even the 20th time they fold it, but they are learning a new skill and like all skills that will take practice.

 

Give Them Opportunities

We need to give them opportunities to learn independence. That means making time in your morning schedule for your toddler to fight with getting his shirt and pants on or giving your preteen daughter some extra time to fix her hair. Often giving them the opportunity means more time in your schedule for them to practice the new skill and for you to realize their efforts will not be perfect. Her hair may look a little crazy, but not any crazier than the other girls at school who are also learning to fix their own hair.

 

One Last Note

Personality plays a big part in trying new things. Many kids will take the lead and want to naturally demonstrate their independence, but not all kids. Some kids are timid and a little more nervous about trying new things. If your child holds back at wanting to try new things make sure you give the extra praise when they do try something. It can be a big scary world and the extra praise and support will not only encourage them to learn this task, but it might make them more willing to try something else.

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