Teaching Your Children to be More Independent
As a parent, you always do your best for your children. You try to give them all the opportunities that you never had and strive to make them strong and respectful. As they grow up, you also want them to become more independent and start to do things on their own. It can be tough as kids grow up at different rates; while one of your kids might be ready to walk to school on their own, another at the same age won’t. It can be a delicate juggling act to get it right, but there are some tips which can help you make them more independent and ready to take on the world.
Give Them Some Warning
For some children, the prospect of becoming more independent can be scary. They have always had a parent to do things for them, so they get a little upset when they have to do these things themselves. That is why it's important to give your child some notice before you start. Let them know the week before that you would like their help to do a few ‘big kid’ jobs around the house. Using phrases like this will boost their confidence and encourage them to help you. If you think that your child might need more time than this, then start earlier by planting the seed that you might need some help. Then, when the time comes, it won’t be such as shock to them.
Use the Right Language
Children can get upset with certain words and phrases if they are not used in the right way. For example, you should avoid telling them that ‘they are not a baby anymore’ as this can lead them to think that you are not interested in them now. Although it might work to get them being more independent, the motivation for doing it might be damaging to their self-confidence. Instead of being forceful or negative, try instead to be encouraging and tell them that you would like their help. You can even make it so that they are trying to change your opinion on the subject. You can tell them that you are sorry for treating them like a little kid when they are actually a big kid. These words of encouragement will go a long way.
Before you try to talk to your children about being independent, you need to think about what tasks they can do that would be appropriate for them. These can vary according to their age; even small children can benefit from doing a few things themselves. For example, younger children can be tasked with putting their toys away after they have finished with them. At this age, you can turn it into a game which they will like, and they will get into the habit of doing it. If you always clear up after them, then they won’t see it as their responsibility. It will make trying to task them with it later much harder. When you have thought of a few things, write them down and share them with your child. You can also ask them what they feel they are old enough to take on.
Do One Job at a Time
Even though you might have come up with a list of things they can do, you should only let them do one at a time until they have mastered it. If you give them too many tasks at once, they will feel overwhelmed, and they might get too stressed out about them. If they look like they are struggling or getting frustrated, then tell them to stop and go through it with them again. Once they have got the task right in their mind, you can introduce a new one.
Give Them Time
When your kids are given tasks, especially at first, they will probably take longer than you to do them until they learn to get them right. It is important that you allow for this and don’t let them think that you are trying to rush them. For example, if it takes them ten minutes to brush their hair in the morning, then add another ten minutes to the morning routine. That way, it won’t be using up time that they usually spend doing something else. It will also stop them from rushing and making mistakes.
Let Them Get on with it
One thing that might cause issues is if you try to micromanage them too much. Constant reminders of their tasks will often cause them to become upset and stressed. Once they know their tasks, let them do it on their own and see what happens. In many cases, they might surprise yourself and do the tasks without you knowing. It will also make you appear calmer, and this can have a big effect on their own stress levels. If they do get on and do their task, make a big thing of it and tell them that they are helping you out a lot. That type of reassurance will go a long way to helping them accept more tasks as you go along.
Children with Disabilities
If you have a child with a disability, then this can make you think that they are not able to some things for themselves. Many children in this situation want to be as independent as their abilities allow, so you should encourage this as much as possible. If they were disabled as a result of an issue at a hospital, then there is the chance you could get some compensation, you can see more about it online. If you are then awarded compensation, this will help you to buy equipment that can make your child more independent and enable them to do more for themselves.
There could be times when your child will dig their heels in and refuse to do something. It can be a normal part of growing up, and you need to deal with it in the right way. If you become too defensive and get angry, then this will only escalate the issue. What you need to do is try to negotiate with them about the task, ask them what it is about the job that they won’t do or don’t like. You might find that their explanation is perfectly rational, so you can then start to find alternatives. For example, if they don’t like taking out the trash because there are flies around the bin, then maybe they can tie up the bag in the house and leave it by the door for you. Another option is for you to try and stop the flies around the bin so that they can put the trash inside.
Don’t Seek Perfection
Your child will do their best to do the tasks you ask of them, but, they might not always do it the way you like it to be done, or they might make mistakes. You should be aware of this and try not to impart your own standards to your kids. As long as the task is complete and there is no mess, then you should accept that this is a good job. You will also find that as time goes on, they might become better at doing the task as they learn the best way to do it. If after some time, there are areas that are not working well, remind them gently that a certain area should be improved. They might not realize the problem so don’t try to be too forceful with them.
You need to give your children positive feedback so that they will be encouraged to do it again next time. Don’t be too critical, just nudge them in the right direction, and they will understand. For example, if they manage to out their own shoes on, then make sure you are pleased with them, even if they are on the wrong feet! They will soon discover that something is wrong and seek to put it right.
Consider the Circumstances
Before you think about giving your child a new task to do, think about their situation. Are they well? Have they had a busy week and are tired? Do they look to be a little stressed out? These things will lead them not to try as hard as they normally would, and it will also probably lead to them forgetting what you told them. Think about letting them have a break for a little while and trying again later. It can also be normal for your child to regress and ask you to do something they have already mastered. They might be asking you because they are tired or upset, so you need to take this into account before you make the decision.
Getting your children to start becoming more independent can be a long and difficult road at times. However, there are many positives to be gained by it, so you need to persevere and encourage them to keep going. They will then grow into independent adults and pass it on to their kids.