How to Encourage Independence in Your Kids

posted: 08/24/16
by: Amanda Mushro

We all want to raise kids that are independent self-starters that can tackle any task that comes their way. However today, we just want them to put their shoes on by themselves and maybe brush their own teeth. When our kids are little, we're doing everything for them. Sometimes we're shocked when they just up and do things for themselves, or to be honest, we know they can put on their own coat, but it's just so much faster to do it for them. But to raise independent kids, we have to encourage that independence at a young age. Here's a few ways you can encourage this independence today.

  • Let your kids choose their own outfits and dress themselves--even if this scares you a bit. Young kids can put together some pretty crazy outfits, so if you're nervous they will choose something totally wild like last year's Halloween costume or a too small bathing suit, start by giving them options to choose from. Allow your kids to choose from two different shirts or three different dresses. Around two and a half to three years old, children should be able to dress themselves, with a little help. Even if it's faster for you to choose their clothes and dress them, let your kids be independent and take on this daily task. Just be sure to allow for a little extra time in the morning for this process to happen
  • Try the "You start and I'll finish" approach for tasks like brushing their hair and teeth, strapping themselves into their car seat, and cutting up their food or opening food containers. Again, you are encouraging independence, but you're there to help if it's needed.
  • Model the behavior for them. Have your kids watch you do tasks like wash and dry your hands, place the napkin in your lap, and put your shoes away. Then ask them to do the same.
  • If your kids are in preschool or daycare, ask their teachers what activities and tasks they do independently. You might be surprised what your child is doing at school all on their own, and once you know, you can encourage this behavior at home too.