Independence is one of the most important things we can pass on to our children, helping them go out into the world as confident, adventurous and resourceful adults. We can foster this spirit in them at an early age, gently releasing their reliance on us as parents and giving them the strength of character they need. Here are just some of the ways we can produce independent kids.
1Enrol them in childcare
Sending your little ones to nursery or a childminder will show them that the world is bigger than just their mummy and daddy. They’ll form bonds with other kids and enjoy new experiences that they might not get at home. It’s scary for you both at first, but it can do them the world of good in the long run.
2Have them spend time with family members
It takes a village to raise a child, so they say, and asking grandparents or aunts and uncles to look after your offspring fosters independence in them. Widening their world in this way can open their eyes to different perspectives, while they will no doubt grow in confidence from being amongst loving relatives.
Showing your child how to become self-sufficient is a great way to promote independence. When they’re small, you could suggest they get dressed on their own or pour their cereal for themselves in the morning. As they get older, this could extend to doing their own washing and ironing, or buying their own toiletries.
4Let them make their own choices
Children love being able to decide what they’ll wear, eat, play with, read and so on. Offering them choices gives them an element of control over their lives, and makes them that little bit more independent each day. You may also find this creates more harmony than dictating to them, too – everyone’s a winner!
5Teach them to cook and clean
No-one wants their son or daughter to survive on toast or be unable to use a vacuum cleaner when they eventually fly the nest. Have them help you cook and do jobs around the house from an early age. This will enable them to build up these skills over time, while they’ll start to appreciate just how much you do for them.
6Broaden their horizons
Independence is as much about thinking as it is about actions. Inspire your kids to be independent thinkers by taking them to museums, and expanding the selection of books they read and programmes they watch. By opening up their spectrum of knowledge in this way, they’ll start to think about things with a wider perspective.
7Give them praise
It’s hard to become truly independent as an adult when you don’t feel nurtured or valued by your parents. So it’s important to praise your children’s efforts, even if the end result wasn’t 100 per cent perfect. A simple “well done!” or a reward chart system can help them feel more confident and willing to take risks in the future.
8Prompt them to act for themselves
Doing everything for our kids may feel kind on our part, but it’s actually doing them a disservice. Even when they’re little they can start to order food in restaurants or pay for items in the shops. Similarly, we should avoid talking for them when friends or family members ask them questions; let them express themselves how they like.
9Explain the value of money
Children have no concept of having to work to earn money to pay for things. This is a vital life lesson and one which will promote independence as they get older. Giving them pocket money in return for helping around the house is a great way to introduce this idea – and gives you a hand with the chores, too!