Guiding Your Child to be An Independent Individual
Updated: Apr 1
Independence is about learning to do things for oneself, which includes making decisions and taking on responsibility. Every parent wants their child to grow up to be a contented, successful and independent individual who leads a meaningful life. Today, we answer the question "Why is independence important?" and explore 4 practical strategies you can use on a daily basis to foster healthy independence in your child over time!
Why is independence so important?
- To lay the foundation for children to cope in teen hood and adulthood.
- To build confidence —when independence grows, so does confidence.
- Many tasks that help to cultivate independence will in turn improve the motor skills of your child, thus promoting physical development.
- Helps children feel like they are in control over matters in life
- It allows them to become good decision-makers as they have the freedom to consider various options before choosing one that they feel is best
4 strategies to foster independence in your child
1. Delegate day-to-day responsibilities
Give your child some tasks that you think he/she can handle. For example, you may start by helping them practise and master everyday skills like doing household chores. Younger children can be taught to put away their own toys, while older children can help with laundry, cleaning floors, setting the table at mealtimes and even acquire simple cooking skills. This will help your child become more independent!
Tip: Do check out our article on how to get your child to help you with household chores.
2. Provide choices
Decision-making is an important part of independence. You can begin to inculcate the habit of good decision-making by offering your child age-appropriate choices.
Begin by giving your child simple choices. As your child shows maturity, you can widen the range of choices available.
For example, you can ask questions like "What would you like to wear today, the red shirt or the blue shirt?" or "Which game would you want to play today, Game 1 or Game 2?" Remember to respect your child's choices so that they will feel confident and encouraged!
Tip: When providing choices to young children, such as toddlers or pre-toddlers, give them an option between 2 choices, not too many. Recognise that young children can make a choice which might be different from what you expect, but they should not be given excessive freedom such that their decision would harm them or cause unnecessary trouble.
3. Be patient
As busy parents, sometimes, it might be easier if we do the tasks for our child, rather than wait for them to do it. However, it is important that we give them the extra time to manage tasks.
Be patient—avoid scolding your child or putting him/her down, even if he/she fails to do something that is quite simple. Doing so might lower your child's self-esteem, creating fear and making your child's journey to independence more difficult. Sometimes, a little more time or a few words of encouragement are all your child needs. Do not nag and accept that it will take time for the child to master the tasks at hand.
4. Don’t handhold
Providing guidance is not the same as hand-holding. It is good to provide some instructions and suggestions to your child, but do not constantly intervene in your child's actions. Encourage your child come to you for help if needed, rather than you constantly intervening!
Tip: Think of parenting as an inverted funnel. When the child is young, parenting should be within the narrow part of a funnel, children are not wise yet and should not be given complete to freedom to make choice which might be harmful to them.
When the child gets older, the funnel gets wider and the child can be given more freedom. The parent recognises that there for the child to learn, some flexibility can be given.
Clearly, the home is an ideal place to practise becoming independent, and parents play an important role. However, your child's childcare setting is also important! At Nurture Infant, our practitioners ensure that there will be opportunities for your child to develop independence through our comprehensive curriculum.
Also, check out our reviews from our parents regarding the care that their children has received at our infant care centre!
For parents living in the Tampines, Nurture Infant House has had 20 years of experience in caring for your beloved children.