No matter what kind of parent you are or parenting style you follow, independence is essential for children. Independence most simply teaches children self-reliance and allows children to feel they have control over their lives. Independence also improves autonomy which builds self-esteem, confidence, and motivation.
While doing independence building activities your child will also be improving their patience, concentration, cooperation, self-discipline and self-trust.If children are not given independence or their independence is restricted, they might react with anger or resistance. This can be especially true during what most people know as the “terrible twos” or phase of self affirmation.
It is important to remember independence isn’t the same as letting your child be in charge or have free reign, but rather teaching them vital life skills. Many parents follow independence based techniques, such as baby led weaning, Montessori education, etc. Especially with young children, don’t overwhelm them with choices. Give your child two or three options to choose from, which lets them feel in control while still providing some structure. Include your child as much as possible in daily activities/responsibilities (picking an outfit, getting dressed, setting the table, preparing a snack, cleaning, etc.). When developing your child’s independence show your child that you value their opinion and that it matters. Respect their decisions whenever possible and teach your child the impact or consequences of their decisions.
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Encourage critical thinking skills by helping your child learn about problem solving. Help them think of how to fix problems rather than straight out tell them. Ask them about possible outcomes “What do you think will happen if you…?”. Always be their positive support, praising them for whatever outcome whether it be positive or negative by saying “good effort” or “good try”.
When establishing your bedtime routine let your child pick their favorite Storybook story or part of the body they want massaged. At least with my little one, one more Storybook story and massage is never enough.Our children can truly surprise us. Just because they are not adults doesn’t mean they cannot make good decisions on their own. Remember it is our job as parents to raise our children so some day they do not need us, rather than raise them so that they always will need us.