Ask any parent whether they want their child to have a sense of independence and they will inevitably say yes. However, in the real world, practicality can often take over. We want children to do chores on their own, make their own breakfast or get dressed without help. Unfortunately, busy schedules and hectic lifestyles often result in parents doing these things for their child as it is quicker or easier.
All too often we find ourselves in situations where it is easier to take control of a situation, but this can often result in children learning to be dependent on us. Making the first step in changing this approach is the biggest challenge, but with some determination and the right approach, you can encourage your child to be more independent. Here are 4 simple ways to start.
Get Your Child On Board
Explain to your child that he or she is growing up, and they are now able to do more for themselves. Explain how important it is that they learn to do these things, and that they can be trusted to do so. Getting your child on board is one of the biggest steps to take, and if you do it the right way, the child will actively want to prove how grown up they are. Encourage them, and explain how you realize they are well able to do these things themselves.
Take Things Slowly
This is not an overnight change – remember the goal in all of this. You are not simply trying to have your child do all of these chores for themselves; you are trying to teach them to be more independent. The fact that they are taking jobs off your hands is a by-product of the goal. Start with a small list of things that they are now able to do for themselves. This could be getting dressed, brushing their teeth, or tidying up their plate after dinner. Start small and work up.
When handing over the responsibility for a particular job to your child, take the time to demonstrate the job to them. At this stage, it can be handy to set a schedule or put a routine in place so that the child knows when it is time to do this chore. It is important that you understand that the child will make mistakes, and will not always complete the job perfectly. That’s ok. The important thing is that act independently to complete the chore. Getting better at it will come with practice.
Work as a Team
There will be times when your child doesn’t want to do something, or perhaps feels under the weather. This happens to the best of us, and it’s important that the child feels comfortable speaking openly about how they are feeling. Keep an open dialogue, and work together as a team. Perhaps your child doesn’t feel very well and doesn’t want to tidy their room. Explain that you will do it for them as they don’t feel well, and that in return when they feel better they can help you with a different chore.
Keeping your child onside and encouraging them in their efforts to be independent is the most important approach any parent can take. Children learn dependence from us, not from anyone else. As a result, it is up to us to teach them about independence. If we do it correctly, the benefits will stay with them throughout their childhood.