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Encouraging Independence in Children

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Encouraging children to be independent helps develop their self-esteem, confidence, competency in taking care of themselves, and resilience. It also trains them to be good creative thinkers Schoolhouse Daycare (2020). Undoubtedly, there are many benefits of encouraging independence in children.

However, developing independence does not happen overnight. Parents need to support their children in their journey of gradually developing their independence (skillyouneed.com, 2011). Here are some possible ways you may consider helping your child develop independence.

  1. Create routines

It is easier to perform tasks when children know what to expect (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006). Routines can be something simple such as the steps in brushing their teeth or keeping their toys before bed (Levine & Philips, 2022). As young children are prone to becoming easily overwhelmed, gradually add tasks to their existing routines so that they can have time to get used to the routine before new tasks are added in (Schoolhouse Daycare, 2020). Younger children might require more time to complete tasks, hence factor in extra time when creating the routines for younger children. (Bongiorno, n.d.).

  1. Set clear and fair family rules

Boundaries help to ensure your child’s safety as they try new things. Setting clear family rules will help your child understand your expectations and limits. As your child grows older, you will need to negotiate the rules with them and adjust them accordingly (Raising Children Network & Centre for Adolescent Health, 2021).

  1. Assign household chores

You may consider assigning a younger child simpler tasks such as setting up the table during mealtimes. As they grow older, assign more responsibility to them increasingly. This makes them feel that they are playing an important role in the family, and they will be more willing to help with tasks (Schoolhouse Daycare, 2020). Besides encouraging independence, this also builds their confidence when performing the task well.

  1. Teach your child to organise their own schedule

As your child starts going to school, teach your children how they can organise their schedules. Teach them to keep track of important dates such as their exam dates or homework deadlines on their own. This encourages them to rely on themselves to remember what they need to do and where they need to be (Lee, 2021).

  1. Encourage your child to socialise with their peers

As your child makes more friends, consider getting your child to invite their friends over to your house. This gives them the chance to learn how to socialise and interact with fellow peers. Should your child be shy and unprepared, be supportive and keep encouraging them to try (Lee, 2021).

  1. Encourage your child to problem-solve

While they are younger, you might help them solve their problems. However, as they grow older, guide your child through the steps of problem-solving one at a time. Get your child to brainstorm on possible solutions and weigh the pros and cons of each option to make the best decision (Raising Children Network & Centre for Adolescent Health, 2021). This trains them to handle different situations and make decisions for themselves.

  1. Involve your child in decision making

Empower your child to make some decisions by involving them in decision-making discussions. When they are younger, this can be done by offering them options such as selecting what clothes to wear or which favourite activity to play (Bongiorno, n.d.). As they grow older, allow them to voice their opinions on various family matters (Raising Children Network & Centre for Adolescent Health, 2021). This can be an opportunity to show your child that while there are differing views, it is still possible to reach a conclusion that can work for all (Shameer, 2022).

The school holidays present many opportunities to learn independence. Start your journey of nurturing independence today by encouraging your child to step out of their comfort zones and engage in new things. Remember to praise them for their efforts rather than focus on the result so they are not afraid of failure and willing to keep trying (Levine & Philips, 2022).

Happy independence training!

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Written by Clara Ang, Programme Executive, Fei Yue Community Services