As parents, we all want our children to have that easy, perfect life. Often we step in to “help” them so that everything they do looks good and all their problems are solved. By doing everything for our children, we take away the opportunities they need to learn to become independent. As parents and teachers, we want to develop and grow happy, healthy, and successful children. We want them to make and have friends, develop responsibilities, understand how to live in the real world, and make positive contributions to their surroundings.
Fostering independence is necessary in order to help our children build the foundation needed to become confident, self reliant, and responsible members of society.
Here are some things we can do to help our children grow their independence:
1. Create and keep routines.
Routines help give children a sense of security and help them develop self discipline. Creating routines teaches our kids how to control themselves and their environments.
2. Help children make meaningful contributions.
By giving responsibilities and jobs at home and at school, we are able to allow our children the ability to make a contribution to their surroundings. You need to make sure age appropriate tasks are completed without doing it for them. Always encourage your child to help others.
3. Develop strong lines of communication with your child.
Take the time to talk and listen to your child. Speak in a normal voice without using any baby talk. This helps children to develop trust and confidence. Listen when your child talks to you about something that matters to them. Comment on what they say without dismissing them. Speak to them like they have valid thoughts and ideas.
4. Encourage self-reliance.
Avoid doing for your child what they are capable of doing for themselves. Gear expectations to your child’s age and development.
5. Allow children to make mistakes and experience the consequences.
Often we are always trying to “protect” our children from hurt or defeat. When we do this, we are robbing them of the ability to learn to cope by themselves. Help them learn that making a mistake is a way of learning something new and useful.
6. Allow them to make age appropriate choices and decisions.
By allowing your child to make choices and decisions you are giving them a sense of control in their lives. Make sure the choices that you give them are something you can live with regardless of the choice they make. Be happy with their choice and support them with it.
7. Talk about failure.
When your child isn’t successful with a task, discuss what went wrong. Help them determine if maybe they didn’t study enough, or maybe they needed to practice more, or maybe they just didn’t perform to the best of their ability. Never blame their lack of success on being “dumb” or not good at something. Never let yourself, or your child, blame their failure or lack of success on someone else. It is important to help them learn to take ownership of their failures in order to turn them around into successes.
8. Encourage your child to be a problem solver.
Let them handle problems with siblings or friends without your help. When asked, you can help your child brainstorm possible solutions. Discuss what would and wouldn’t work and why.
First Grade Teachers: Lindsey Usrey, Lauren Tyler, Lynley Rhodes, and Nancy Lutz