How to Teach Your Child Independence

Parents often look forward to and dread the time when they are no longer needed for everything. Because it has to happen, here are some ways to encourage your child to do things for themselves.

Start with encouragement

Avoid saying things like, “you aren’t a baby anymore; you should be able to do this.” Not every task will come quickly to everyone, and even though this seems like encouragement, it can feel more like criticism. Instead, try “I bet you could do this by yourself. How about you try and I’ll help if it gets too tough.”

Determine how your child learns

Some folks learn best by seeing things done; others have to do it for themselves. No matter which way your child learns, be sure that they fully understand how to accomplish a task before you set them up to do it. If that means watching them tie their own shoes or brush their teeth, you better get used to demonstrating as many times as necessary to help them nail it.

Keep jobs small to start

Getting dressed may seem like a simple thing to do, but think about how many little details there are in doing it! Not only do you have to put on a shirt, and pants, and socks, and shoes, but you also have to make sure they are on correctly and in the right order. Try giving them one job to start. Like putting on their own underwear, then work your way up to an entire ensemble.

Give them the time they need

Just because it takes them longer than you to get a job done does not mean you should continue to do it for them. If you know it takes them a while to tie their shoes, and you’re running late in the morning, wake up earlier.

Stay positive

When your child puts their shirt on inside out, congratulate them on putting a shirt on at all and let them know they will have another chance tomorrow.

Try not to let little mistakes set you back

Kids are clumsy, and they are bound to make a little mess when trying something new. If they put too much toothpaste on their toothbrush, show them the right amount and don’t make a huge fuss. show them the right amount and don’t make a huge fuss.

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