Holding your child close and taking care of them are essential parts of parenting, but they don’t last forever. Kids need more independence as they grow up because it helps them become confident young adults who know how to take care of themselves. This guide explains how to encourage independence in our children and still keep them safe so it doesn’t feel as intimidating to let them take charge of their lives.
Young children still rely on their parents for many things, but they can become more independent even when they’re just entering elementary school. Consider what they can help with around the house and make an age-appropriate chore chart. They might pick up their toys three times a week or make their bed every day. Start with small responsibilities to get your kids in the habit of taking care of things without a helping hand.
During your next trip to the grocery store, ask your child to grab something on your list from the other end of the aisle. Older kids could cross the store to get something too. They’ll practice their memory and navigational skills within the safe confines of the grocery store, so you can reach them if they get lost or confused.
Parents also benefit from this tip because they’re not alone. The store associates will spot your child wandering the aisles and ask if they need help. If your child is nervous or needs assistance, the employees could assist them or call you over the loudspeaker.
Fitting another playdate into your schedule may seem exhausting, but it’s great for encouraging independence in your children. Socializing with their peers develops all essential domains like emotional, cognitive and language skills. It also allows them to make choices without parental supervision. They’ll practice their manners, decide what they want to do and evaluate what’s good for them while remaining safe in a supervised home environment.
The playground is another place where parents can take a step back from their kids while still making sure they’re okay. Your child will meet new friends and explore the limits of their physical capabilities, like climbing monkey bars.
While they use their independence to push themselves and have fun, they’ll be fine no matter what they decide to do because playgrounds utilize special safety materials like synthetic rubber flooring or loose-fill mulch to reduce the chance of injury. It’s an easy way to encourage independence in your children and still keep them safe.
Young teenagers typically want more independence because they’re excited about upcoming milestones like getting their license or going to college. Parents can find babysitting classes and sign their teens up to experience independence while making their first source of income. They’ll learn valuable skills like how to perform CPR and when to call 911, which will save them in moments of danger even when they’re not babysitting.
Teens will jump into a new world of responsibilities and independence when they get their first job, but it may be a while before your kids are old enough to start sending job applications. Instead, research volunteer opportunities where you live. You can take them to help plant flowers in a local park or serve meals at a homeless shelter. Children will learn teamwork, time management and other independence skills without having to wait until they’re older.
Kids can make more choices at home to experience greater independence right away. Let them choose what they’ll wear or how they’ll decorate their room. You can even stock up on healthy food and ask them to pack their lunches for school. They’ll figure out how to make a nutritious meal, put outfits together and even organize their belongings before moving out of the house.
If you’re still unsure how to give your kids more autonomy, take a step back. Some parts of your routine might feel essential, but they could keep your children from taking on new responsibilities. Instead of waking your child up every morning, show them how to set an alarm so they can wake up by themselves.
Kids could get ready for school while you’re making breakfast downstairs or pick out their daily outfits without supervision. There are plenty of little things they can do around the house to become more self-confident without risking their safety.
Watching your kids grow up is one of the greatest wonders of parenting, but it’s also a little scary. Parents can use these simple tips to learn how to encourage independence in their children and still keep them safe. Give them space, let them make choices in safe environments and allow them time to practice new skills. They’ll quickly learn how to take care of themselves and take on the world in age-appropriate ways.