One of the many important jobs of parents is to instill in their kids the confidence and abilities to meet life’s challenges with self-reliance. Of course, parents also need to protect their children and provide assistance and support. It can be tough striking a healthy balance between these two areas of parental responsibility, and there’s really no single right answer as to how to do so. But there are some general approaches to helping your child become more independent that are beneficial.
Ways of Helping Your Child Become More Independent
- Make a list of age-appropriate chores and other tasks for your child. Offer small incentives for them to keep track of what they need to do and get it done on schedule. However, don’t get carried away with rewards or over-emphasizing them; this can teach kids to simply seek rewards rather than tackle things because they should.
- There should be consequences for not fulfilling responsibilities.
- Don’t criticize your child for not doing things perfectly. However, offer constructive advice for how they might accomplish things more efficiently or with better results next time.
- Offer praise when your child independently finishes something. Phrase the praise so that it speaks directly to their initiative, problem-solving skills, or other area of their ability to succeed (as opposed to just telling them how great they are, which can encourage unhealthy praise-seeking).
- Teach your child to set goals and to think about how they can achieve them.
- Give your child choices and let them make their own decisions about little things, like what to wear or what to have for lunch (limit the options to those that you’re willing to accept).
- Refrain from hovering or micromanaging when your child is attempting to do something. Show them that you respect them and have confidence in them.
- Provide guidance, but allow your son or daughter the freedom to make their own decisions from the information you offer.
- Don’t intervene if you see your child making a mistake (assuming there’s no danger or imminent disaster, or course). Let them make mistakes, and afterwards, discuss them and what lessons can be taken from them.
- Don’t make a big deal out of failure. It happens. Sometimes repeatedly. Just help your child discover a better way.
- Develop routines with your child to help them understand what’s expected and when things should be done.
- Negotiate with your child when appropriate so they can learn this important skill, and how to compromise.
- Be responsive, encouraging, and instructive when your kid shows an interest in learning how to do something.