Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5 Ways to Foster Independence in your Children

By: Dyan Eybergen BA,RN,ACPI 

As children grow, parents bestow onto them more and more autonomy and authorize a sense of independence. Parent's prepare their children to make healthy choices and teach them skills necessary to meet personal responsibilities required to live successful independent lives. Everyday nuances give way to opportunities for where parent's exercise a child's developing autonomy. Here are 5 such ways to encourage appropriate independence in children:

  1. Give choices: Encourage independent decision-making in the simplest tasks from letting children decide what clothes to wear to what should be on the menu planning for this week. As children practice making decisions they begin to weigh out the consequences of those decisions and become more informed about how their choices impact them and those around them.
  2. Support the child's completion of a responsibility (even if it doesn't meet your standards). While children are learning, the completion of a task should be more important than that standard to which they have finished the task. It's okay that that the bed they made has lumps in the middle. The idea is to encourage them to take care of themselves. Perfection or the meeting of your standards will come with practice. First empower their capability to attempt to complete something for themselves.
  3. Allow the child to choose friends and activities. This can be a difficult one for parents but it is important that our children learn for themselves about the people and activities that bring them comfort and joy and to weed out on their own that which makes them unhappy or are unhealthy. We can do this by asking our children how it makes them feel to be involved in that activity or around a particular person. If they don't communicate good feelings parents can point that out to their children fostering awareness and independent decision making about whether or not they want to continue in those relationships.
  4. Assist the child in developing problem-solving skills. Children who can find solutions to their own problems are also far more superior in taking ownership for their own actions and make amends independent of blaming their problem on anyone else.
  5. Embrace alone quiet time. Children need to know how to entertain and be quiet with themselves. Teach a child they do not have to rely on anything outside of themselves to be content.   



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