As much as we would love to care for our children for the rest of their lives, that just isn’t practical. We need to teach them how to be confident, independent people so they can thrive in the world by themselves. Here are some ways you can teach independence.
1. Permit differing opinions
Encourage your child to talk and voice her opinions, even if they seem silly to your ears. Encourage her to talk and express her feelings. What does she think of that TV program? How would she behave if she was living the plot of that book? Accept that some of her opinions are going to differ from your own and help her explore them.
2. Let go gradually
This is something you’ll be doing over time. As your child grows, give her opportunities to act on her own. Obviously you’ll have to judge when it’s safe. You wouldn’t let a three year old play down the street unattended, but by five she should be able to fetch the mail from the mailbox without you. You’ll have to decide for yourself what freedom you can allow, but always look for opportunities.
3. Give out reasonable tasks
It’s appropriate to dole out tasks to your child at any age, so long as they are reasonable. Ask her to put away toys, help sort the laundry, or set the table. When she’s older, it’s good to entrust her with household chores. These tasks build character and teach her how to act on her own.
4. Insist your child play with other children
Children do a lot of learning when they are playing with other kids. They learn about the world, about proper behavior, and about social relationships. Give your child plenty of opportunities to play with other children one-on-one and in groups. If she doesn’t attend a day care, arrange play dates.
5. Include your child in family decisions
When the family needs to make a decision, include your child and honestly consider their input whenever you can. Ask them where they would like to go for dinner or which trail to take in the park. Some decisions you’ll have to make on your own as a parent, but bring your kids in whenever you can.
6. Set up lots of unstructured time
Some well-intentioned parents like to keep their kids scheduled every minute of the day. They enroll their kids in dance classes, music lessons, tutor time, and sports. But most of learning at a young age comes from free, imaginative play. They’ll experiment with social roles, expand their imagination, and learn to behave without the instruction of an authority figure.
Written by Karen Barski, BSN, RN, Mother of five, Certified Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, & Inventor of the Woombie Baby Swaddle
Karen has been an RN for 18 years, and has worked in many different nursing roles. As a Certified Infant Care Specialist, Karen counsels thousands of families yearly on a multitude of issues relating to pregnancy and infancy. Also, as a mother of five, she has invaluable experience and tips to share.
Since 2007, Karen’s company, KB Designs, has invented a line of signature baby swaddle products that have helped parents easily transition their new babies from womb to home. There are multiple designs and sizes so that babies can enjoy the comfort and security of the Woombie up until the time they begin to roll.
Each product has been created and designed by Karen because of a need she identified in her life with her five children. With convenience, safety, and fashion in mind, KB Designs has helped over a half million babies and counting!
For more information, visit www.woombie.com.
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