As a parent, the idea of helping your children to be more independent is a scary one – you’ll probably want them to need you for as long as possible, and the idea that they one day won’t isn’t a nice one. However, it’s also something that just has to happen if they’re going to go and live their own lives and make a success of themselves, so as difficult as it might be, it’s also exactly the right thing to do – you need to ensure your children grow up to be independent. 

That can start early on, and it’s wise to make that happen because it’s great for their development and confidence too. With that in mind, keep reading to find out how to help your children be more independent while still always being there for them when they need you – which they will. Read on to find out more. 

Photo by Karolina Kaboompics

Play-Based Learning

One thing that can absolutely help when it comes to ensuring your children are more independent is helping them play in the right way. Of course, there’s not really a right or wrong way to play, and playing is crucial no matter how it’s done, but if you can encourage play-based learning, so they’re playing and learning at the same time, that’s going to ensure they get one step ahead every time they play, and that’s no bad thing to have happen. 

The way to go about this is to buy them what’s known as open-ended toys – these are toys that encourage kids to use their imagination more, and don’t set all the rules and techniques out in advance. Good examples include building blocks, dolls, Lego, or even art supplies; anything that means the child’s imagination comes into play is great, as they’ll be learning all kinds of useful skills and boosting their creativity as they play, and that helps them be a lot more independent. 

Using A Child-Led Routine

When you first read the words ‘child-led routine’ it might sound worrying, it might even sound terrible, but don’t worry – it’s a good thing (when it’s done right) and if you want your children to be more independent, it’s a necessary thing too. 

A child-led routine means that children have a say in what they do each day and what activities they get involved with, which is how they become more independent and more responsible – they have to make choices and work out which choices to make. 

The key is not to let them make every decision, and instead give them a few choices within the framework of what you’ve already planned – in that way, you don’t lose out on any control and authority, but the children feel they’re the ones leading everything, making it the best of both worlds for everyone involved. Have a flexible schedule when you’re going to allow the kids to make decisions because you’ll need to go with their choices otherwise they’re not going to trust you when it comes to making decisions in the future, and they’ll stop being so independent, instead waiting for you to make all their decisions for them. 

Help Them Find A Job

Your little kids can’t get a job – you know that already, of course! – but your bigger kids, your teenagers, can absolutely get a job, and it’s a fantastic way to help them become more independent. There are all kinds of things a teenager can do to make some extra money and learn how to problem solve and make decisions, and with your help and guidance, this can turn into an excellent start in life, ensuring your child gets a great work ethic and understands how to interact with and work with other people. 

One thing that many teenagers do is babysit, and this can be an ideal first job because it’s all about responsibility, but it’s also something they can do without interfering with their schoolwork (they can do their homework while the children they’re taking care of are in bed, for example), so it’s a great compromise. There will be quite a bit of competition when it comes to babysitting in your local area, so signing your child up for a babysitting class can be a great way to get them ahead of the crowd and ensure they get the jobs they want. In these classes, they’ll learn all kinds of useful things like first aid and CPR and how to help a child in various different situations, so a parent hiring a babysitter with this kind of knowledge is going to be confident their own kids will be in safe hands and they might even pay more too. 

Encourage Problem-Solving

For younger children (or older children who might not quite be ready for a job) there are still plenty of things you can do to help them be more independent, and one of those things is to encourage them to solve their own problems from an early age. We’re not saying you can’t ever help them – in fact, that would be terrible advice, and a sure way to have a distant relationship and an unhappy child who never learns how to fend for themselves! – but we are saying that they need to try to work out how to solve problems for themselves, with your guidance and advice, before you give them all the answers. 

The reason we’ve suggested that this is a good thing to start early on is that as a parent, your instinct will be to do everything for your child, big or small, but although that instinct is going to help them initially, it’s not going to help them when they need to be more independent, such as when they leave home and start a career. By starting early, it won’t seem strange to you or them that they’re expected to work out their own answers and solutions before getting you to solve things for them if they’re really stuck. 

One way to get start with this is to give them puzzles and interactive games when they’re little; these will challenge their problem-solving abilities and they’ll be fun, so it won’t seem like hard work. Plus, you can play with them, and help them when they need it, meaning they’ll get the idea that although they’re the ones in charge, you’re always there, just in case. 

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