Tips to Help Your Child to Be Independent

If you help your child to be independent and learn important life skills, you'll prepare them better to deal with the demands of adult life.
Tips to Help Your Child to Be Independent
Azucena Fernández

Written and verified by the teacher Azucena Fernández.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

As a parent, you probably often wonder how you can help your child to become independent. Young children rarely understand the concept of doing things on their own, on time, or being responsible for their actions.

Not only does the question arise as to how to achieve this independence, but we also wonder how to do it and how to not make it seem like a punishment. This is the key. Instilling the idea of being independent takes time. What you really need to try to achieve is that the desire to be independent comes from inside them, in a natural, unforced way.

Why should children learn to be independent?

Even if your child may seem very young to do these things, some day he or she will grow up to be a fully functional adult. Learning some life skills early on can make them better prepared to deal with the demands of adult life.

Children need time to understand the concept of choices and to learn to make the decision that they think is best for them. By introducing choices early on in life, children can start to get to know themselves better and understand what really makes them happy.

Tips to Help Your Child to Be Independent

A person’s self-esteem develops at a very early age. It can become stronger if a child soon begins to have confidence in himself or herself and in his or her own decisions. Independence helps, in this sense, and makes the child feel effective and useful right from the beginning. With these tips, the child can continue to enjoy their childhood as they should.

Tips to help your child to be independent

Give them responsibilities they can handle

Your child doesn’t need to start managing the finances of the house and making big decisions! They just need to start with small responsibilities, which they can handle on their own. Your child’s independence needs to start with you, and that’s where you can help your child.

If, for example, you’re planning a picnic and you need your child to help you, then give him or her simple tasks. Tasks like making a list of things that you might need. You can follow up on these kinds of responsibilities by encouraging them to pack their own bag for a short weekend trip that you’re thinking of taking, for example.

To help your child to be independent, let them make their own decisions (sometimes)

Allow your child a degree of freedom in small ways. For example, give your child the power to choose what to wear or what to have for a snack. It’s a way for them to take on small responsibilities when making decisions.

Empathize with them to help your child be independent

Your child is learning to be independent and sometimes it won’t be easy for them. Try not to scold or punish them, even if they don’t do something very simple that you would expect them to do. You need to be there to support and help them if they need you, without judging them.

Don’t make failure a big deal

Children will often get things wrong. They’ll make mistakes. They may even repeat those mistakes in spite of your warnings. Avoid focusing on those failures. Let them know what they could have done better, but don’t put too much emphasis on that mistake. This could affect their self-esteem and won’t do them any good.

Tips to Help Your Child to Be Independent

Establish a proper routine

Children may have trouble making decisions for themselves if they don’t think sequentially. This can easily be managed by establishing a fixed routine. Once your child knows what to do on a given day at a given time, they’ll start doing it and will learn to do more things for themselves little by little.

Making choices

Work with your child to commit to a task, and help them to make the best of every situation they face. In the above example, they could choose the place to go to for the picnic, or whether they want a midday picnic or an afternoon one. Let them see that they can’t have both and that they have to make a choice. This will help them to prioritize their preferences.

It’s true there’s a big difference between making a young child independent and teaching them to do certain activities on their own. However, once your child begins school life, you can ask them to start doing certain things for themselves. This is the beginning of their future independence.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.