It’s always a daunting prospect for children and parents alike to be dropped off somewhere new, like a birthday party, first day of a new school etc. Suddenly you won’t be there to help your child and they will have to be more independent. Our tips to encourage your child to be more independent will help them prepare for the next step and maybe comfort you too that they are more prepared.
Choice is empowering. Letting your child make their own decisions about what they want to wear or eat gives them the feeling of being in control. Of course, given the choice, most 4-year-olds would wear a superhero costume to go to the shops and eat sweets for dinner every day. So, it’s really about making them believe they have the choice. For example, offer two suitable outfits for your child to choose between, that way they feel they have had a say and you are happy they won’t be turning blue on the way to the Supermarket.
Giving your child certain jobs to do will make them feel grown up and give them a confidence boost. Perhaps allow them to be in charge of the shopping list as you go around the supermarket or give them the task of setting the table for dinner. Make sure its age appropriate, changing the car brake pads at 5 probably isn’t going to work very well.
Becoming independent is a learning curve. Don’t expect perfection from the start. Praise them for their efforts and allow room for error. When you take over, you could be denting their confidence. For example, when learning to tie their shoelaces, allow a little extra time and let your child try and do it themselves first. Don’t step in and do it for them, ask if they would like help. If they can’t do it, help them out, praise them for trying and reassure them that they will do better next time. This will help give them the confidence to try again. If at first you don’t succeed…
Let them Play by Themselves
Give your child plenty of opportunities for self-directed play. Us adults do tend to take over, helping them build a Lego tower or dressing their doll. Giving your child the chance to play by themselves will give them the chance to figure out problems for themselves and use their imagination. It also means that when they go to school they’ll be able to play alongside their peers and won’t be looking for Mummy or Daddy to show them what to do.
Younger Play Dates
Often, when children are in a group, the older ones will take over and decide on a game or direct the younger ones. Give your child the chance to be the eldest child at a play date, meaning they will be the one to take charge and instigate a game. Being the leader gives children a huge confidence boost and will improve their teamwork skills in school as well as in later life.
In no time at all your child will be ready to tackle whatever school throws at them! We’d love to hear your ideas for encouraging children to be more independent.