Growing Independence in Your Child

It is important to foster independence in your child. Children are more likely to succeed and accomplish their goals when you help them build up their confidence and ability to make good decisions on their own. 

Parents have a responsibility to provide children the physical and emotional ability to succeed. “Your responsibilities include providing your children with the opportunity, means, and support to pursue their goals. The psychological means include providing love, guidance, and encouragement in their efforts. The practical means include ensuring that your children have the materials needed, proper instruction, and transportation, among other logistical concerns.”1

The following are examples of what it looks like to have your child become independent. They —

  • “[are] intrinsically motivated because they are allowed to find their own reasons to achieve.
  • were given the opportunity and guidance to explore achievement activities of their own choosing,
  • parents use extrinsic rewards appropriately and sparingly,
  • collaborative rather than a controlled relationship with their parents in which the children’s ideas and wishes are solicited and considered, 
  • good decision-makers because they were allowed to consider various options and, with the support and guidance of their parents, make their own decisions.”1

You may not want your child to have independence yet. You may want to hold on to their dependence to you as long as possible. You might think that you are doing them a favor, but you’re not. Children will want that independence sooner rather than later. It is important to help your child rather than shielding them from any sense of independence. If you do try to withhold their independence, they will feel like they have to rebel, and that can be very harmful to your relationship. Fostering their independence will strengthen your relationship with your child because it will show them that you are here to support them. They will feel more comfortable with you being by their side if they know that you are happy to help them become an adult. 

Here are some ideas to help foster independence in your child:2

  • Give Notice- acknowledge what they are doing well and how they have grown up and taken on more responsibility. 
  • Identify Opportunities- find things that your child is now able to do on his/her own or should be learning how to do themselves! You might find that your child doesn’t want to do certain things themselves, but the more you encourage and start at an appropriate age, it’s more likely they will try. 
  • Make Time- make time for them to accomplish things on their own. You as a parent may say, “it’s just faster if I do it, so let me do it this once.” Try to avoid that as much as possible because then you will most likely never give your child enough time to do it on their own. 
  • Compromise- kids will resist doing some things on their own (most likely chores), so it’s okay to compromise occasionally. It is also always a good idea to add in some fun! Make the laundry or dishes into some kind of game. 
  • Forget Perfection- don’t criticize because they can’t do it as well as you can. The more you criticize, the less likely they are to want to try it again. And remember, it is highly likely that you weren’t perfect at it when you first started. 

Growing independence can be difficult. Parents may be unwilling to let go or the child may be unwilling to learn things on their own. You must figure out what the roadblock is in your situation so you can know what to focus on. This is not something that is achieved quickly, but takes years of intentional time. Be patient with yourself and your child and focus on building a strong relationship. Doing so will help make them more willing to grow in their independence because they will feel more confident and secure with your guidance and support. 

 

References

1.Parenting: Raise Independent Children. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201011/parenting-raise-independent-children

2.Gillard, J. (2016, September 29). 8 tips for teaching kids to be more independent. Retrieved from https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/teaching-kids-to-be-more-independent/

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2 Responses to “Growing Independence in Your Child”

  1. Mike A April 6, 2020 at 12:38 pm #

    Tried to comment earlier but mentioned something about a “captcha” problem. Regardless…always personally found it difficult to let my kids do an “inferior” job at various chores in order to teach them important lessons on responsibility and being a part of a team/family…but it was worth it.

  2. Jax Pediatrician May 22, 2020 at 8:51 pm #

    A lot of this is up for debate as to how parents handle this. I’ve seen a lot of parents who don’t know how to properly manage independence versus neglect. Thank you for laying out the best practices.

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