An independent kid is a confident kid! Follow these tips for raising independent kids to help prepare your children for life after school.
Most of the time, we talk about the issues that can arise when parents aren’t involved enough in the upbringing and education of their children. In reality, there are just as many problems at the other end of the spectrum as well. Yes, we’re talking about helicopter parents. It’s important to find that balance when raising independent kids!
A child cannot be successful when over-parenting, overprotecting, and micromanaging are going on. When everything is done for them, including all decisions, kids aren’t able to develop their own sense of self.
We shouldn’t absolve them of helping around the house, getting enough sleep, or just being a kid just so they can get their schoolwork done and have straight As. By the time they reach adulthood, they stumble into the world on shaky legs.
Which isn’t what we want at all!
In reality, we’re a bunch of imperfect people who should try to raise imperfect kids. Being independent is all about making mistakes and learning from them.
While being self-reliant is amazing in its own right, we’re not saying to totally take a hands-off approach to parenting. We don’t want the car to crash either!
Instead, find that balance between supporting your child and letting them shine all on their own with these tips for raising independent kids.
Why it’s So Important to Raise Independent Kids
When it comes to raising independent kids, you’re teaching them self-efficacy. This is an individual’s belief that they are capable of achieving certain things. They have control over their own abilities, emotions, and life. Essentially, you’re teaching them to believe in themselves!
Kids need to believe that their actions can lead to outcomes. No, not their parents’ actions on behalf of the child, but the child’s own actions. In this case, they will have to do more thinking, planning, coping, and doing for themselves.
This is a big part of maturity for a child. The more mature you are, the more in control of your own life you are.
While we can’t let the little ones be fully independent, we can help them to become more mature as they grow older. By the time they’re a teenager, they can be more independent. After all, we can’t do everything for them until they’re 18 and then send them on their way!
When we raise our kids to be independent, it does so much more than make our lives as parents easier. Since we love our children, raising them to be independent will make their lives easier down the road, which is ultimately all we want for them.
The Best Tips for Raising Independent Kids
Now, there isn’t a rule book or step-by-step guideline for raising independent kids. These tips are general guidelines to help you in supporting your child, from toddler to teenager, to be more independent on their own. Remember, it takes time, patience, and lots of flexibility!
Chores are number one for a reason. It works!
From time to time, kids need to learn that it’s their job to roll up their sleeves and get some dirty work done. Part of life is doing unpleasant work and everyone needs to chip in. Yes, doing the dishes sucks. But, the effort of doing the dishes is for the betterment of the whole house.
If you’re just starting out with younger kids, beginning with picture routine cards is an easy way to add in simple and age-appropriate chores.
This will translate well in life for helping others and in the workplace. They can ask how they can be useful to their colleagues and plan ahead for what they need. Otherwise, they’ll end up becoming young adults in the workplace waiting for things to be done.
Chores not only teach responsibility but also time management and decision-making skills. Consider setting up a chore chart in the house or adding chore time to the daily schedule.
Here are several chore charts and independent charts to help you get started!
Don’t lie—our instinct as parents is to say no. Can I have an Xbox? No. Can I go play at Shannon’s house? No.
But what would happen if you say yes?
If they want to do something on their own, such as visit a friend, encourage this behavior. If they want you to do something for them, such as buy an Xbox, add a contingency. Yes, you may get an Xbox- but, you have to walk the dog every day.
This allows them to accept some kind of responsibility to get what they want. It also allows them to problem-solve as they try to come up with ways to get what they want.
When it comes to raising independent kids, one key skill your kid needs is how to make decisions.
When kids are young, you’ll make all the decisions for them. But, as they get older, you want to begin to include them in the decision-making process.
Start off by giving them options. For instance, do you want to wear the shirt with the dinosaurs or the sparkles to school today?
It’s important that you let them know you want to hear their opinion. A big part of self-efficacy is being confident in yourself. They need to know they are capable of making decisions.
Over time, let their decisions increase. Let them choose the types of classes they want to join, their summer camp, after-school activities, family vacations, what color to paint their room, etc. Their decision-making should encompass all aspects of their life!
One major part of becoming independent is being out in the real world. But for some, talking to strangers can be absolutely terrifying. If this is the case with your child, practice having conversations they may have with other adults. This can be anyone from their teacher to the cashier at the store.
When ready, start off with simple challenges. Ask them to order their own food at the restaurant or get them to ask for change at the store. Be with them at first. Let them know that you can jump in if they need you. All they have to do is give you the signal.
This will get them ready for day-to-day life once they begin to earn their independence. By the time they have to call to make their own dentist appointment, it will be a piece of cake!
Create a Routine
At home, kids may need you to tell them what to do all the time. If you are raising independent kids in the house, try creating and sticking to a routine. Most of the neediness comes from not knowing what to do in a day. With a routine, you eliminate the confusion over what’s next in the day.
Eventually, they will being to do and initiate things on their own since they know what’s next. When they start to get sleepy, they’ll get ready for bed. Hungry? Then it’s time to grab a snack.
Let Them Fail
Failure isn’t fun. Nobody likes it. But, it’s one of the best ways to learn out there. When you’re first encouraging your child to be more independent, applaud the efforts rather than the results. It’s going to take a few tries before things go right, but the anxiety of failure will lessen if failing isn’t a big deal.
Always encourage them to try, no matter the outcome!
Always Offer Your Help
All of this being said, don’t just disappear and become invisible when times get tough. It’s important that your kids always feel supported at all times. In order to go out into the world feeling confident and comfortable, they need to know that they always have people there for them in case things go wrong.
Apply this thinking from a young age. If a child is having a hard time locating their favorite toy, don’t just find it for them, and don’t let them get frustrated looking for it themselves. Help them retrace their steps.
You can assist them in finding a solution to their problems. Give them clues and prompts to help them work things out for themselves, with assistance from you of course. The older they get, the more they will be able to do it on their own.
Their Worth is More than School
For many kids, their entire life revolves around school and it’s because that’s what their parents encourage. We tell ourselves that if our kids are happy, we’re happy. But, when they get home from school, oftentimes the first thing we talk about is their homework and grades.
In reality, their life is so much more than scores on a test! They need to also learn how to hang out with friends, clean their room, drive a car, learn hobbies they love outside of school, and so much more.
This way when they graduate, they won’t feel lost at suddenly ‘losing their job’ of being a full-time student. Their life will still exist!
That wraps up the main tips for raising an independent kid!
While it can be hard to watch them struggle and figure things out on their own, it’s all part of growing up. Always be there for them when they need you the most but let them open their wings and figure things out for themselves from time to time!