Welcome back to our Top 5 Parenting Series. The previous posts in this series are titled ‘Top 5 Rainy Day Ideas for Parents’ and’ Top 5 Tips for Creating Better Sleep for Your Child’. In this post, our third post in the series, we will explore tips for raising independent children.
Raising children is hard. I mean really hard. At the same time, raising children is one of the most rewarding experiences we can have as adults. Raising independent children is an essential aspect of their development and growth towards becoming self-reliant adults. Fostering such autonomy in young minds requires a delicate balance of guidance, support, and allowing them the freedom to make their own decisions. As parents or caregivers, our role is to nurture this independence by providing a safe and encouraging environment that promotes exploration and learning. With the right approach, we can instill the skills and characteristics needed for children to successfully navigate the world on their own terms. Below are five tips to help your child develop into an independent adult.
Tip 1: Give them chores.
Children can begin working on chores as early as 3 or 4 years old.
One idea for nurturing independence in children is by assigning them age-appropriate chores within the household. By participating in these tasks, children not only learn essential life skills but also develop a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. This hands-on experience allows them to understand the importance of contributing to the family unit and fosters a sense of autonomy. Moreover, engaging in regular chores helps instil a strong work ethic and cultivates time-management skills, ultimately preparing children for the demands of adulthood.
If you have read any of our previous blog posts, you know I am an advocate of children contributing to the household. In our house, everyone has daily chores and weekly chores. As discussed on Michigan State University’s Extension website, “By setting the table, kids see they are successful, important and needed, all of which help build their self-esteem. Weekly chores teach children life skills like responsibility and setting priorities that will be important for the future.
Similar to other habits, the earlier kids learn to help with daily duties, the more likely they will continue as they get older. In other words, start early.”1
We use summers to revamp the daily chore list, so that we have extra time during the day to practice our new skills. Daily chores include picking up your room and making your bed. These aren’t overly challenging or time consuming but they provide my girls with a sense of responsibility and pride in their individual spaces. Their weekly chore includes cleaning the toy room space. They have other responsibilities they complete as needed such as striping their bedsheets and helping set and clear the table before and after meals. Emptying the trash, helping with yard work, and putting away laundry are other common chores they have to do.
Tip 2: Teach them the value of money.
Teaching children about money will help them learn to be self-sufficient adults.
Teaching children the value of money is another essential aspect of raising independent individuals. By incorporating lessons about budgeting, saving, and spending wisely, parents can help their children develop a strong foundation in financial literacy. These skills will not only empower them to make informed decisions but also enable them to navigate the complexities of the financial world with confidence as they grow older. Early exposure to money management concepts can significantly contribute to a child's overall development and success in various aspects of their lives.
As important as it is to teach our children to save, it is equally important to teach them to spend wisely. Teaching them about sales, want versus need, and quality over quantity are other great topics to talk about with your child when discussing money.
Tip 3: Let them get ready for school themselves.
Set your child up for morning success by planning ahead the night before.
Allowing children to take responsibility for getting themselves ready for school is another vital component in fostering independence. This can include tasks such as waking up on time, preparing their own breakfast, and getting dressed without assistance. By entrusting children with these responsibilities, parents encourage self-sufficiency and time-management skills, while also building their confidence in handling daily routines. Furthermore, this gradual shift in autonomy helps children transition seamlessly into more significant responsibilities as they mature.
This is a challenging goal some days in our house. If my children have a hard time getting up, I find that I have to help them more in the morning. Some things we try to help set them up for a successful morning is set clothes out the night before, have a breakfast plan, and pack their backpacks the night before. These steps eliminate some time needed in the morning and allows my girls a better chance at having an independent morning.
Tip 4: Let them fail.
Allowing your child to fail is, unfortunately, an integral part of raising a capable and confident child.
One essential aspect of fostering independence in children is allowing them to experience failure and learn from their mistakes. By providing a safe environment in which children can take risks and face challenges, parents offer valuable opportunities for growth and self-improvement. When children are allowed to fail, they develop resilience and a better understanding of their limitations, which ultimately leads to increased confidence in their abilities. Through this process, kids become more capable of confronting life's obstacles and adapting to various situations with grace and determination.
I have written about failing before. It can be heart breaking as a parent to watch your child struggle and fail. Think back to your childhood and the lessons you learned when things didn’t go as you planned or wished, though. This can be a great reminder of why it is important for your child to have those opportunities as they grow up. As an article on Parents.com website states “Mistakes should be welcomed as learning opportunities.” 2
Tip 5: Teach them how to take care of others.
Being a kind friend is always a valuable skill.
Taking care of others is another crucial aspect of fostering independence and developing well-rounded individuals. By engaging children in activities that nurture empathy and compassion, parents can encourage them to understand different perspectives and show respect to all people. Volunteering at shelters or participating in community service projects can serve as excellent opportunities to introduce kids to the world of giving back. With smaller children, you can talk to your little ones about being a good friend through their actions and words and by being helpful to teachers and other adults. As I tell my children, you are never too young to be kind. As children grow older and cultivate these values, they will be better prepared to interact meaningfully with those around them and contribute to society in purposeful ways.
Do you have any other tips for parents to help them raise independent children? We would love to hear them!