How parents can help young children gain independence

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  Published on Wednesday, 25 April 2018

How parents can help young children gain independence

Library Home  >  Parenting & Family Life
  Published on Wednesday, 25 April 2018
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From the moment a newborn takes its first breath, parents take a hands-on role in keeping children healthy, safe and happy. From changing nappies to following night-time routines, mums and dads do it all.

However, as babies grow into children, there comes a moment when it's important to foster their independence and loosen the apron strings.

Let's look at why independence is so important for children and how parents can help them build the 'sense of agency' that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Why is it important to nurture independence in young children?

Independence is an essential part of what it means to be human. Every person has their own skills, strengths, likes and dislikes, and although it's important for children to develop a sense of togetherness with other people, it's also important that they develop a sense of themselves as individuals.

In a nutshell, independence helps children develop self-esteem, identity and well-being. It allows them to:

  • Try things for themselves and take responsibility
  • Feel a sense of achievement
  • Make decisions and hold opinions
  • Develop their capabilities and life skills
  • Feel in control of things that happen
  • Start to think of themselves as competent members of society

How can parents encourage self-sufficiency in kids?

Mums and dads play an instrumental role in supporting children as they learn to think for themselves and take on solo tasks.

To help children gain a healthy sense of independence, parents can:

  • Praise their children when they try to do something for themselves, regardless of the outcome
  • Provide them with options and let them make simple choices
  • Include children in household chores
  • Encourage self-play
  • Ask their opinion about things that relate to them and listen to their thoughts
  • Teach them problem-solving skills
  • Provide positive support when they find themselves in a challenging situation

What are some activities that help build independence at home?

It may be quicker to clean your child's teeth, and neater if you make their bed but it's important that children are given the time and opportunity to learn new skills and gain independence.

Depending on their age, here are six activities that children can practice doing for themselves at home:

  1. Choosing clothes and getting dressed
  2. Preparing breakfast
  3. Brushing their teeth and washing themselves
  4. Setting the dinner table
  5. Tidying up and organising their belongings
  6. Caring for a family pet

All in all, there are many ways children can become more self-sufficient by completing simple tasks and making daily decisions.

And in between doing up buttons, pouring breakfast cereal, laying out cutlery, putting away toys and feeding Fido, they'll empower themselves to be confident, competent members of society.


Resources:

Australian Childhood Foundation

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 10 February 2020

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