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Our Blog: July 1, 2024

Building Your Child’s Independence

Children excel with the freedom to explore, discover, make choices, and (inevitably) make mistakes, independently. During these successes and failures, your child will begin making sense of the world around them. You can help foster these experiences with patience, practice, and support. 

Create Easy-to-Follow Routines

Though it is unrealistic for each day to look the same, creating simple, easy-to-follow routines during common daily tasks, such as school drop-off or bedtime, will help your child learn what to expect. The more your child can anticipate what’s coming next, the more they will feel comfortable taking on more responsibilities with independence. Some examples of this in action may look like:

  • Putting Shoes On – While you put your shoes on, allow your child to do the same without help. At first, they may be on the wrong feet and that’s okay! After several attempts, they’ll learn to put them on correctly.
  • Morning Routine – Create a visual schedule of the main events that happen in your home each morning such as waking up, brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, getting dressed, etc. Your child will be able to look at this schedule and anticipate what is coming next. Eventually, they will start performing these tasks independently.
  • Bedtime Routine – Encourage your child to practice independence by modeling the routine. You can do this by taking turns putting toothpaste on your toothbrushes or setting a timer and brushing your teeth together before bed.

Building a small amount of extra time into your busy schedule will provide opportunities for your child to practice and eventually master these small parts of their day. That should help to supply you with extra patience too.

Give Them Simple Choices

You can help your child feel empowered by allowing them to choose for themselves. Offering two safe choices allows everyone to feel successful. Some beneficial examples include:

  • Allow your child the chance to pick their clothes for the day. Offer two shirts and two pairs of pants to make their decision easy.
  • Practice putting socks on. Offer them two choices by saying, “I can do one sock and you can do one sock, or would you like to put both of them on by yourself?”
  • Give choices at mealtimes. Present each food option and allow your child to choose what they would like to eat.

Offering your child choices allows them to be in control and practice being independent. Support your child in making those decisions, celebrate their successes, and reflect on failures together.

Encourage Problem-Solving

It can be difficult to watch your child face challenges but it’s important to allow them to work collaboratively with peers or try new materials to seek a solution. This can take patience and critical thinking skills that are crucial to their development.

Remember, failure is a big part of success and to fail they must try. Stay nearby and, chances are, your child will ask for support when and if they need it. Remind them that mistakes are how we learn.

Independence does not happen overnight. It takes patience and practice. Remember to celebrate your child’s wins and encourage them to keep going. In return, your child will feel confident and capable. Allowing your child to problem-solve through their mistakes will help shape the way they approach new challenges and deal with adversity in the future.