A mom’s life can be a constant wish to see her children all grown up, and at the same time cry over how they grew up so fast.
We want them to do things on their own, but at the same time miss it when they longer need us.
We all want to raise independent children, there’s no doubt about it. But I have noticed that sometimes I tend to do certain tasks for them long after they are grown enough to do it on their own.
Teaching independence and letting them take control over their activities doesn’t mean you are neglecting them. In fact, teaching independence and important life skills is one of the best gifts we can give our children.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR A CHILD TO BE INDEPENDENT?
Teaching a child to be independent is important because it teaches them to think for themselves, be self-reliant and take on responsibilities in life.
When you teach them to be independent, you are also helping them become confident adults who will be successful in life.
To become successful in life, you need to work for success by overcoming all the odds, at the same time believing in yourself. Fostering independence in kids give them the ability to believe in themselves.
Many people push through their days and live their whole lives not doing the things they dream of, only because they are afraid. They don’t believe in themselves. They are afraid of failing and they have all these limiting beliefs that hold them back when they want to attempt something.
Many of them come from childhood programming. As I live through and fight against my own limiting beliefs that got instilled in me as a child, I realize how much I can do as a mother to make my children’s life different.
I know that if I teach them to be self-reliant, they will grow up being more sure of themselves and venture out into the world to follow their dreams. They won’t be afraid of failure and trying new things.
But for that, we have to begin now!
Let’s see how can we raise independent children who are sure of themselves.
LET GO OF YOUR FEAR AND SENSE OF CONTROL
If you have raised a toddler, you know how strong their will to be independent can be. There is no stopping them because they think they can do anything.
If you have noticed children in general, they don’t have self-doubts about what they can do or not. They think they can do anything and offer us help too.
It is us adults who restrict children because we think of them as incapable. Of course, we can’t let them do anything they ask for. But we need to think before restricting them.
So often I have been amazed by the ability of my kids to help in the kitchen or other household chores because I had clearly underestimated them.
But if they insist and I let them do it, it’s far better than how I thought it would be. Therefore, now I let go of my fear and the need to control. This alone can help them try various things and increase confidence.
Instead of judging them and saying “No” outright, we can say, “Let’s try to do this”.
Encouraging kids to take part in household chores is a good idea to make them independent. Understand your child’s abilities and entrust them with appropriate tasks.
Your son may not be able to do what your friend’s son does. Each child has different abilities. therefore, don’t pressurize or compare them with others.
Our aim is to make them independent, not compare them with others and make them feel bad about themselves. It will lead to just the opposite effect, that is, develop low self-esteem and a belief of “not good enough”.
LET THEM FAIL
You might feel bad when you see your child struggling with something. You don’t want him to suffer. And your love for him might interfere and you will want to do it for him.
Children can sense your fear and it will gradually cause children to lose self-confidence and have a tendency to be more dependent.
So, let them do what they want on their own. Or if you think they are old enough to take care of some of their activities, encourage them to do it. You need to step in only when something life-threatening happens. Otherwise, just trust and let go of your protective instincts.
When they fail, let them try again and again. In fact, there is nothing called “failure” in life. There are only “lessons”. Every time you try something and fail to achieve the desired result, you learn something new.
Teach your child about this when they feel frustrated about a failure. This will open new perspectives for them to view life.
LET THEM GET OUT OF COMFORT ZONE
To let them make mistakes and fail doesn’t mean you neglect them when they suffer.
As a parent, you can encourage them to step out of their comfort zones slowly. At the same time, let them know that you are there for them whenever they make mistakes and need support.
We are social beings and we are dependent on each other to satisfy our needs. We might not depend on others financially, but we need people to support us emotionally.
We are wired to crave for love and recognition from people who are the closest to us. Children and adults need recognition alike.
Offering them support makes them courageous to try things on their own because they know they have a strong support system.
If you are quick to judge and underestimate, they learn to fear unknown things. I think that’s the starting point of the endless cycle of self-doubts for many people.
Let’s break the cycle. Let our children be different. Let us help them build a confident mind and a successful future.
MAKE THE HOME ENVIRONMENT SUPPORTIVE
Kids can start doing the tasks that they want if we can set up the home environment accordingly.
Keep their clothes, toys, utensils and other belongings on the lower parts of storage shelves, so that they don’t have to seek your help for completing chores.
You can ask them to get ready to school on their own. And also, they can pick up the toys after playing and put it back without anyone’s help.
Keep a safe stool in the bathroom so that your toddler can brush his teeth by himself. Or, reach for things that will help him accomplish his tasks.
TEACH PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS
Kids often have to face problems in school and at home. Don’t rush to solve their problems by offering solutions. Instead, you can walk them through their problems by asking questions and letting them come up with solutions.
Ask them questions like, “How do you think we can solve this?”, or, “What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”. You might be surprised by their answers because they can have better ideas than you.
Hence, let them think about ideas to solve problems on their own. Your job would be to offer empathy and support.
This will help them to brainstorm solutions when they face problems.
I try to praise my daughters when they solve a problem on their own. This increases their self-confidence and decreases the fear of making mistakes.
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LET THEM TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS
Kids should understand that there are consequences for their actions. Let them face it so that they learn their lesson from experience.
For example, if your child keeps forgetting about keeping books in his bag according to the timetable, let him face the natural consequence once. The lesson from his experience will be far more effective than your constant verbal reminders.
When he faces the natural consequences, he will be more self-dependent on making changes.
For smaller kids, you can make them clean the mess they make or make them pick up the toys and ask them to keep everything where they belong.
LET THEM MAKE DECISIONS
Stop being a helicopter parent who makes all the decisions for your child and tries to protect them from making mistakes. Experts say that the children of helicopter parents develop low self-confidence and lack life skills.
When parents do everything for their children even when they are past the age of doing the chores by themselves, they become lazy, dependent and entitled.
So stop hovering around your children and let them make their choices and mistakes. Let them learn from the failures for it will help them become resilient.
At all times, express your belief in them and their choices. You can help them get back up when they fall, but don’t prevent them from falling.
You can let them make decisions in their matters from a young age. Let them choose which dress they want to wear, which toy they want to buy or what theme they want for their birthday party.
One of the secrets of raising independent children is, making routines. Though every family is not keen on making routines for children, many mothers including me run on routines.
It’s because I have found it’s easier to get co-operation from children when they know what they are expected to do. You can create checklists and chore charts to ensure routine tasks are performed smoothly without much intervention from you.
When they run through the same motions daily, they learn their responsibilities faster. And learn to do their activities independently.
TEACH THEM TO MANAGE MONEY
Teaching kids about money management is a life skill that will decide how independent and successful they will be in the future.
I still remember the lesson my college professor taught me about money. She told us, “Always ask yourself one question when you wanna buy something, Is this a want or a need?”.
I have been able to let go of so many impulse purchases and save money and regret, by asking this question to myself. And that decision would most probably be right.
And this is a lesson I hope to pass onto my children. When my kids ask for more toys, I remind them about the toys they already have and that they simply don’t need another one now.
Instill saving habits in them by encouraging them to save. If they want to buy a toy, help them count and save money for the target amount from their allowances. Now, I won’t ask my young kids to save money for whatever they want to buy. We provide for them and buy them what they need.
But once in a while, when they have the desire to buy something, we can ask them, “Why don’t we save some money from your allowances and buy it?”.
It will be a proud moment for them when they achieve the goal and it also proves to them what they are capable of.
TALK ABOUT FUTURE
Sometimes I talk to my elder daughter about the future and I always remind her how important it is for everyone to be independent.
I cite examples from my own life by saying, “Mommy earns money by writing, and that helps us to not depend on others to meet our needs. You too can make use of your skills and be independent once you become older.”
I tell her about the benefits we can enjoy if we are independent, by taking small examples from our daily life. And I also appreciate and praise her when she does something on her own. There is no force or pressure, but the idea is to build the desire in kids to be independent so that they wish to enjoy the benefits too.
Patience is the ultimate virtue that you wanna develop when you are a parent. And that is if you want to become a better parent.
When it is hard for you to see your child making mistakes——breathe.
When it is hard for you to wait when they are as slow as a snail to tie the shoelace and you are running late ——breathe.
When it is hard for you to remain calm when they fold the cloth in the wrong way even after demonstrating for the fiftieth time ——breathe.
It is easier for you to do it and get the job done faster, but how will he learn?
If they don’t have the opportunity to learn and grow, they are not going to be independent.
Hence, bite your tongue and take deep breaths. Not easy, I know. But it will be worth it.
So, these are my best tips on how to make kids independent. What tactics do you use? Let me know in the comments below.
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