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How to boost my child's independence?

I have many parents asking me this:

"Why young kids today find it so difficult to problem-solve real-life situations?"

"How can I make them more independent?"

"Why do they always wait for me to help them?"

Independence is not an innate trait that children are born with. Independence is a skill to LEARN through positive parental guidance and nurturance. In other words, the parenting environment you provide for children plays an important factor in developing independence.

From our previous blog post, we talk about the signs of overpampered children. Today, we are going to learn how to stop pampering and start boosting independence in your kids. Here are THREE ways to help you kickstart.

Letting Go

This is the first, most important and difficult step for parents. As parents, we want to provide and give our child everything. But loving your child is not about doing everything for them and shield them from the world. Loving your child means letting them go and experience the world themselves. That doesn't mean you don't care and let them run free. It simply means we take a step back to guide and encourage our children to see things through their own eyes - to let them explore, make mistakes, fail and find solutions.

If you're always feeding them, they will never learn how to feed themselves. If you always assume kids 'do not know how to do it' and immediately help them, then children will never learn how to do it by themselves.

Starting today, let them go. Don't let your assumption or fear of "they don't know how to do it" rob away your child's opportunity to become independent. Instead, encourage and guide them to do it the right way.

Don't do what children can do for themselves.

Your child wants you to help them with this, this, this and this. You find yourself dashing here and there every other minute for your kids. And you're so drained. But you don't have to be anymore.

Here's a simple age guide to help you understand the skill sets for young children.

Ages 2 and 3

  • Dress himself with minimal guidance (clothes, shoes)

  • Help to put toys away

  • Feed himself with fork and spoon

  • Setting up the dinner table

Ages 4 and 5

  • Simple chores like cleaning, wiping, and laundry

  • Simple food preparation with guidance like toasting bread, spreading butter, cereal, etc

  • Dress himself independently

  • Basic self-grooming like brushing teeth, cleaning up after potty

Ages 6 and 7

  • Basic meal prep independently

  • Using the knife

  • Help with groceries

  • Washing the dishes

  • Folding laundry with guidance

Ages 8 and 9

  • Folding clothes independently

  • Make his own bed

  • Take a shower

  • Prepare hot meals

If your child is at the age for a certain skill, don't be afraid to let them try it independently.

Promote Problem-Solving

If children face difficulties in a specific situation and if it's not life-endangering, try to hold off those parental instincts of wanting to jump in to help fix their problems. Instead, step back and give children the opportunity to analyse, troubleshoot and come out solutions of their own. You'll be surprised on how creative they can be!

Remember, don't condemn children's effort for trying. It is okay to make mistakes and fail because that's how they learn.

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