While there’s nothing like having a baby in the house, there’s something to be said for older children who can take care of themselves.
Part of our responsibility as parents is to help our children become independent. Here are five ways we can begin to cultivate those skills while our children are young.
1. Teach self-care. Show them as early as possible how to bathe themselves, comb their hair, and put on their clothes. As they mature, show them how to make a sandwich or get their own snacks. At each birthday, I evaluate what new tasks our girls may be able to handle on their own.
2. Expect them to clean up after themselves. This could include clearing their place at the table after they eat, adding dirty clothes to the hamper, and putting their toys away neatly.
3. Have them be responsible for their own possessions. From making their bed to keeping their room neat to putting clean clothes in their drawer, we can help our children take care of their property.
4. Allow them to figure out solutions to problems. When a child asks for help with a problem, try to use questions or suggestions to guide them to a resolution of their own. It’s easiest to just tell them what to do, but it’s valuable to teach them to think for themselves.
5. Instruct them on how to make decisions. This process that will take years, but we can start early on by helping them evaluate their options and choose the best one.For example, if they’re going outside to play, help them think through whether they need a jacket or not. Don’t always second-guess them, but let them see how their decision turns out.
Do you have other suggestions for teaching our children how to be independent?