Research shows that the majority of parents throughout the country believe that responsibility and independence are some of the most important traits they can instill in their children. And, yet, many parents struggle when it comes to actually teaching these skills.
If you’re in this same boat and want to raise a responsible, independent child but aren’t sure how, read on. Listed below are five tips you can implement to start encouraging your children to be more independent today.
Why Should Children be More Independent?
There are a number of benefits that come with encouraging your children to be more independent, including the following:
- Improved confidence and self-esteem
- Improved ability to manage stress and difficult situations
- Better emotional maturity
- Better decision-making skills
- Improved leadership skills
How to Encourage Children to be More Independent
You’re probably convinced now that it’s important for you to teach your child to be responsible and independent. But, how do you actually go about doing that? Employing the five strategies listed below is a great place to start.
1. Give Them Specific Jobs
If your child doesn’t have specific chores that they’re required to complete each week, this is a great place to start when it comes to teaching independence and responsibility.
In addition to fostering a sense of responsibility, chores are also great because they give children a sense of accomplishment. They’ll be able to easily see the difference they’ve made in the household, even if they just did something simple like wipe off the countertops or pick up their toys.
2. Let Them Help Plan Meals
Another easy way to get kids involved in the household is to allow them to help you prepare and plan your meals. Let them make suggestions for the shopping list and teach them basic cooking skills — again, making sure that they’re age appropriate.
Young children will love to get involved with stirring soups and sauces or cracking eggs into a bowl. Older children can be tasked with slightly more advanced responsibilities, such as peeling or cutting vegetables or boiling water.
3. Encourage Service
It’s never too early to start teaching your kids to think about others’ and prioritize service. Look for volunteer opportunities to help your kids gain a better perspective and see how they can give back to those who have less than them.
Over time, your kids will likely start performing charitable acts on their own without prompting. They’ll also learn to appreciate what they have and will be more inclined to take care of their things to make them last.
4. Encourage Them to Entertain Themselves
As a parent, it’s easy to feel like entertaining your kids is a full-time job in and of itself. While very young children do need a certain amount of help from you when it comes to staying entertained, it’s also important to encourage your kids to develop their own interests and find ways to stay busy without your help.
Set your kids up with books or coloring pages so they can entertain themselves without you. Encourage them to try new sports and activities, too.
5. Don’t Do for Them What They Can Do for Themselves
Finally, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of doing tasks for your children that they can easily do themselves. Even very young children can make their own bed and help fold their own clothes.
Many parents also end up helping their kids with basic hygiene (bathing, brushing their teeth, etc.) for much longer than they need to. These are simple things that your child should be able to do alone — or with minimal supervision.
If you’re worried your kids getting hurt while they bathe or do other tasks, invest in some tools that minimize risk. For example, a rubber bath mat provides a non-slip grip for safety, and a stable, rubber-bottomed step stool will help them reach higher shelves while minimizing the risk of falling.
Encouraging your children to be more independent doesn’t have to be complicated. By starting slow and making simple changes to their routine, they’ll be able to handle more responsibility and be better off for it.