Learning independence is a part of growing up, but for many children, it may not be a quality that parents actually foster in their children. There’s a big difference between saying ‘I’d like my kids to be independent’ and really encouraging that independence so that they become well rounded and focused kids in the future.
Independence and self-reliance are skills that children will need to develop one way or another, and it’s best that they learn the approach of safe independence from you as a parent rather than rebelling to gain some mythical independence as a teenager.
It’s been well known in psychology for decades that kids who are sheltered for a large part of their lives are actually at a much higher risk of going off of the rails as they grow up.
Part of this is the rebellion phase getting out of hand, but another part of it is that children who are not given space to explore their own self-reliance end up relying on others, and those others may not have either best intentions at heart.
Encouraging independence should start, believe it or not, from birth! Even the youngest of babies can learn very quickly to do some things on their own, even if it is just exploring their own bodies during tummy time.
As your kids grow and get older, you’ll want to expand that self-reliance and independence training to all areas of their lives.
Set your kitchen up so that they can not only watch you cook but also get involved and maybe even cook for the whole family on their own at the earliest possible opportunity. Check out granitetransformations.co.uk for some great kitchen makeover tips to help get the ball rolling. A great quality kitchen can completely transform the cooking experience.
Other areas of their lives you can help encourage independence straight away include getting dressed, picking their own clothes, encouraging self-care in the bathroom, free play time, and many other areas.
It’s been well documented that children who are encouraged to be independent grow up to be more self-confident than those who were kept away and hidden from the world throughout their childhood.
Children are resilient, much more resilient than we give them credit for. They also have a knack for knowing not only when they have achieved something (and being proud of that) but also for knowing when they’re being praised for something they perhaps didn’t deserve extra praise for.
It’s really important that, as a parent, you encourage children to do their best and to be the best that they can be, but not to over-praise when they do achieve everyday milestones.
Things like using the potty don’t need a song and a dance; just a well done will suffice. The same goes for tasks such as chopping fruit and vegetables for their snacks, this is an everyday task, and you can tell them you’re happy they have managed to do it on their own, but they don’t need a celebratory party!