When our children are very little, we want to keep them close.
We’re often upset at the very idea of them leaving us, or even starting school. You might find yourself tempted to stifle their independence. To keep them at home, where you can look after them and keep them safe.
This is usually a mistake. Children that are raised to be independent often find it far easier to make their own way in the world. They are eager to become successful, and they are equipped with all of the tools and knowledge that they need to be safe out there in the real world.
When you raise independent children, you don’t have to worry if they want to go to the park with their friends when they are a little older. You don’t have to worry that they won’t know how to cook and clean when they live alone for the first time. You’ll know that they are responsible, sensible, and able to look after themselves. Even when they are very young, raising them to be independent means that they’ll love the freedom that comes with going to school and playing with their friends. And, of course, it means that you will get a little more help around the house.
Image – CC0 Licence
As a parent, your priority is always keeping your children safe. When it comes to giving them more independence and freedom, education is crucial. When you show them how to do something new, teach them how to do it the right way. Make sure they are safe and comfortable before you let them do it on their own.
A more significant step in growing independence is going out alone. When our children are a little older, we might start to think about them walking to school alone, or going out to play with their friends. Eventually, you might start taxiing them around as their social life begins to develop. This can be scary for both of you, but it’s also a crucial part of their development and one where education is more important than ever.
Teach your children how to stay safe when they are out and about. Talk to them about the dangers that they might face, and equip them with tools, such as phone numbers, and contact details, and make sure they know where to go if they need help.
Be Honest With Them
The world is a scary place. You might worry about all kinds of things when your children are out without you. This is entirely normal. You might also worry about what you should tell them. You won’t want to scare them, but nor will you want to send them out naive to the dangers that they may face. Be honest. There’s no need for horror stories, but they should know what to look out for and who to call if they are worried. In this respect, teaching them to trust and value their instincts is one of the most important things that you can do.
Make Helping Fun
Who loves cleaning the house? Well, some people do, but for most of us, it’s an annoyance. Something that we have to do. Having a little help from smaller members of our family would be lovely, and it’s also a great way to prepare them for adult life.
But, if you don’t want a battle on your hands, you need to try your best to make helping at home fun. Give them age-appropriate tasks, and teach them how to do things safely, but have fun with it. Make it a game, put some music on, or create a pretend world of adventure, where your pirate ships need cleaning.
Give Them Notice
No matter how old your children are, or what you are expecting of them, they need notice. You can’t just expect them to get it right the first time, and you shouldn’t just spring things upon them. This can be overwhelming and may put them off.
Give them some advance warning. Tell your toddler that it’s time to start getting dressed like a big kid, or that you need to start learning some skills ready for them to start school. Tell your older child that you want them to walk to the store on their own, or start cleaning up after themselves.
Look for the Signs That They Are Ready For More
When Should You Start Letting Your Children Become Young Adults? There’s no sign or magical age at which they are old enough to become more independent. But, you know your children better than anyone. Some might ask for more freedom when they hit their teens; others might start dropping subtle hints about what their friends are allowed to do. When they are younger, look at what they can do, what they enjoy, and what they struggle with. Make changes as necessary, and reassess both of your expectations regularly as they age.
Image – CC0 Licence
Independence and responsibility shouldn’t be something that you one day decide to spring on your children out of the blue. They’ll be confused, they might worry about what it means, and they’ll probably rebel. Instead, start young. Encourage them to do things for themselves as soon as they are able, and let them have more freedom when the time is right, increasing it slowly over time. This way, it will be a natural part of growing up and not something to be scared of.
Appreciate and Praise Them
You might put your socks on without too much trouble every day, but if you’ve got a very young child, getting it right is a big deal. You might walk to the local store to pick up some milk and bread without giving it any thought at all, but for someone approaching their teens, getting it right and going alone can be a considerable achievement. Recognise these achievements, whatever they are. Say well done, offer them plenty of praise, and if they’ve done something for you, or that has made your life easier, thank them for their help.
Children need praise. It’s how they know that they are doing the right things, and it’s often what makes them want to do more. So, praise them whenever they do something independently, however small it may seem to you.
Disclosure: This is a partnered post