Encouraging Kids to be Independent
Recent parenting styles include helicopter parents who hovered anxiously around their children and lawnmower parents intent on mowing down any rough patches in their children’s lives.
It seems like parents are trying to do more to ease their children into adulthood.
In Tokyo, however, children as young as six years of age are sent on their first solo errand. It’s how some Japanese parents instill independence in their children. They assign the child a simple task, such as purchasing something at a nearby store. Often one or more family members secretly follow the child at first. Eventually, the child will be allowed to travel across the city alone.
Encouraging kids to be independent can be scary, but it’s the best thing you can do for your children.
Let them do it themselves
If your children can brush their teeth, give them the toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Children will take longer to do what you could have done for them in the blink of an eye, but by providing them ample time for their tasks, you’re giving them invaluable experience.
Allowing your children to perform developmentally appropriate tasks builds confidence. Your children will be looking for more ways to be independent, and that means one less thing you have to do.
Establish clear guidelines
Encouraging kids to be independent is not the same thing as laissez-faire parenting, in which you let your child do anything he or she pleases. Children learn independence when they have a stable foundation from which to learn and grow. They need routines and responsibility.
The consistency of routines and a schedule help to anchor a child’s world. The after-school routine may be as simple as completing homework, eating dinner, taking a bath, reading a book and going to bed. Knowing what comes next helps children cope with unplanned events. Routine reduces anxiety, and children who are less anxious are more likely to become independent.
By teaching your child to take responsibility for the tasks he or she can do, you help to build confidence and independence.
Allow for self-mastery
As unpleasant as it is to think about, you won’t always be there for your kids.
Independent children know they can take care of their own needs. Intrinsic motivation keeps them going, and they make – and live by – their choices. They may solicit their parents’ guidance, but independent children control their own destinies.
Helping your child become independent is perhaps the greatest example of love that you can give them. Your encouragement will help them thrive.