4 Sure-Fire Ways To Raise An Independent Child

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If you’re like most parents of young children, your schedule is jam-packed from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall into bed. Between work, taking care of the home, and taking care of the children, you may feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s just easier to finish the tasks that you normally expect your children to do, just to move things along. But by doing so, you may be unintentionally broadcasting the message that only mommy and daddy can do these things right, thus promoting learned helplessness and low self-esteem.

Children become independent when they feel encouraged to tackle new tasks and confident enough to dare. Check out these four sure-fire ways to encourage self-sufficiency in your household minions.

Independence comes in steps, and they don’t all happen at once. The responsibilities you assign your child should be well within their developmental grasp. Be alert for their interest in taking on new responsibilities, but make sure not to pile the obligations high. Some families take advantage of a child’s birthday not just to give gifts, but also to offer up a new, age-appropriate family chore in order to associate the responsibility with the pride of becoming a big boy or girl.

Once a child is given a new responsibility, it’s important to set up the expectation that it will be fulfilled. If they’re still reaching for mastery, then build extra time into your daily schedule so they don’t feel anxious or rushed. If dressing takes them a half an hour, make sure they’re awake a little earlier so they have plenty of time to accomplish it.

Perfection (Not!)
Failure is a difficult but effective teacher, which is why a wise parent allows a child space in which to fail. When learning to pour their own juice, they’re likely to cause spills. Hasn’t everyone spilled milk at one time or another? Rather than wipe it up for him, give a little oops! and hand him a paper towel so he can sop up the mess himself. It’s hard to take off the training wheels, but who has learned to ride a bike without a few bumps and bruises?

If you only praise success, a child may grow frustrated when tackling difficult tasks and likely give them up. But if you praise effort as well as success, your budding self-sufficient child will learn that grit is the key, and sustained effort can bring new skills as well as success.

With a little practice and patience, you may find your schedule easing up as your children willingly shoulder more and more responsibility, both for themselves, their family, and, eventually, for their community.

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