Raising Independent Children
How do we help our kids transition into "big kid" roles? How do we help empower our children to be independent? This is an interesting topic that was requested by one of my readers and one that is worth exploring. There are certainly moments in a child's life where they are given significantly more responsibilities, are exposed to change, and require bravery. Overall, there are specific times in a toddler's life, where they are expected to remember the rules, act in certain ways, and be the "big kid" they are growing into. How do we help our children transition to this stage?
Helping Children Become Independent and Transition Into "Big Kid" Status
Some may be initially turned off by this topic because they want to baby their child for as long as possible and let them just be kids. Of course, I am with you, it is extremely important to preserve the innocence of childhood and let a child be unconditionally physically babied and emotionally supported. We want our children to feel safe and secure in their relationships with their primary caretakers however, children need to be continuously challenged, cognitively stimulated, and given opportunities to practice independence, and be autonomous. From the time a baby is able to sit up, they are capable of many things to help build the foundation for confidence and independence. It is our job to help empower our children, see their potential, and know when they are capable of exercising autonomy. So, how can we do this?
How to raise independent Children
A very important and easy way to begin having your child practice independence is having them contribute around the house. Helping out with chores and everyday tasks is a very simple way to get consistent practice, which will help build the confidence needed to handle new situations, scenarios, and encounters. For age-specific chores, check out Kid Friendly Chores. Giving children responsibilities and jobs is a great way to help children feel "big," independent, and proud.
Another way and possibly the most important way, is being aware and knowing when to acknowledge actions from your child as you see it occur in a natural and organic manner. When you see your child act "big" or brave or helpful, label it and acknowledge it. This will help to identify the behavior you want to encourage and reinforce. For example, the other day I was volunteering at my daughter's school and a little girl said to me "Brittany, I got shots yesterday." I replied "Wow! You were so brave. You got the shots you needed to stay healthy and strong." She said, "I cried though." I responded with "it's OK that you cried, you were still so brave because you did what you needed to do stay healthy." She smiled at me and I could see a sense of ownership a feeling of proud on her face. That was an easy situation to acknowledge because it was very obvious. Some may be less apparent, but still worth mentioning. For example, if your child slept through the night without calling out to you, or if your child ate their whole meal without complaining, or throwing food. Look for the everyday examples to turn into learning experiences for your child. When you talk about their behavior on the spot, they will be more apt to remember this behavior and be able to repeat it. When your child needs some encouragement and reminders, recall real-life examples of when they exhibited autonomy and help to remind them they are capable, because they have indeed accomplished this before.
There shouldn't be a jarring transition into "big kid" status, rather, it should be a continuous implementation throughout their life, starting from when they are baby. babies are capable of many things to "help" and begin building those frameworks for an independent and confident child. How do you empower independence in your child? I would love to hear from you.