“How can I help my child become more independent?” This was one of many great questions parents asked at our recent “Meet the Teacher” night at my school.
Here are five simple tips to help your young child increase their independence:
- Let your child learn the value of responsibility. If he forgets his homework for example, don’t drop it off at school. Let him face the classroom consequences of missing homework. When he gets home, brainstorm ideas to prevent that from happening again.
- Let your child be a decision maker. When your child must make a simple “yes” or “no” decision (for example, buying or bringing lunch) have her tell you, or list two “pros and cons” before deciding.A "pro" might be that she really likes the lunchroom pizza. A "con" might be that if she buys lunch she won’t get to use her new lunchbox. This is great practice for bigger, more important decisions later on!
- Give your child family chores. Keep it doable for a young child, such as making their bed, putting toys away, or setting the dinner table, etc. Use the word “we” often to let your child know that responsibility a family requirement. “We always put dirty clothes in the basket, not on the chair.”
- Make organization and clean-up gear “kid” accessible. For example, low rods in a child’s closet, smaller hangers, colorful bins for backpacks and lunch boxes.Get a small, child-sized dust pan and brush so that your child can be responsible for clean-ups.
- Don't forget the power of positive reinforcement! “Great job!” “I really liked how you cleaned up your toys.” Focusing on what your child accomplishes, rather than what he forgot to do is a great motivating tool.
Fostering independence is one of the best “gifts” you can ever give to your child.