As a parent, one day you’re changing diapers, and the next they’re asking for the
car keys. Time flies and our children quickly become young adults, dreaming of
their own intrepid futures full of endless possibilities—and sometimes this
happens much faster than we would like! But gaining more independence and
gradually doing more things on their own is a natural and essential part of
growing up, and as parents, we want to be sure our kids are getting all the
support and encouragement they need to become more self-reliant.
What this means can be different for each family. Parents know their children
best and can set their own pace for facilitating more independence, taking
advantage of many different situations to inspire confidence and responsibility.
In almost every case though, you must first set out expectations for your child,
and let them know why being independent is important.
To begin, ask yourself how comfortable you are with having your kids do things
by themselves. Again, each child develops differently, and at different times. If
there is a task that you know your child is capable of doing without your help, it
may be entirely appropriate to let them take the reins. Being granted that
responsibility can help them gain a sense of achievement, and in turn, you might
even get a little more free time to yourself!
If you’re not sure at which stage your children should be, there are also plenty of
education and health resources you can explore, or you can turn to family and
friends. While normal childhood development can be a range, there are
nonetheless some major benchmarks that most kids should reach at certain
ages, and it’s easy as parents to forget this sometimes as we get caught up in our
everyday busy routines.
If your child isn’t performing a certain task well though, don’t fret! In many
cases, he or she simply needs to be shown or taught how. After all, the best way
to help kids become more independent is to not do everything for them. This
doesn’t make you neglectful or uncaring; in fact, it’s the opposite. It means you
care enough to prepare your children for the great wide world, so that when
they’re old enough to venture off on their own, they’ll have the skills needed to
take care of themselves.
It’s also okay if they have trouble or fail at first. Learning is a process, and so is
the path to gaining personal independence. Making mistakes at the beginning is
a part of that journey, and fortunately, in almost all cases we learn from our own
mistakes, not the mistakes of others.
Becoming more independent is a part of growing up. It can be hard, and it can be
scary—for both kids and adults. However, being able to do and achieve things on
your own can also be very rewarding. In contrast, co-dependency is the opposite
of independence, and studies have found that excessive reliance can lead to low
self-esteem as well as poor mental and physical health. To help kids grow and
thrive, promoting independence is important, and by demonstrating that being
independent is a positive change for both you and them, you’re paving the way
for them to become successful, self-assured and self-sufficient adults.