As children age, we want to see them become increasingly self-sufficient. After all, you’re preparing them for the real world – and in the real world, parents can’t always come to the rescue. So it’s essential to bring up your child to be self-sufficient and capable. If you’re not quite sure how to go about that, here are a few tips to get you and your child on the right path.
Give Them Options
Let your child make decisions about their daily life. You can start off small, from letting them decide what to eat for breakfast to what they’re going to wear to school. If they want to try their hand at cooking dinner, great! Let them give it a whirl. That being said, make sure you can live with whatever decisions they make. Setting some ground rules beforehand will give you both boundaries to work with.
Let Them Make Mistakes
It’s hard as a parent to stand aside while your child struggles or fails. Unfortunately, it’s part of life – and one that we all learn sooner or later. By allowing our children to make mistakes, we’re also giving them the chance to learn from those mistakes. They’ll take ownership of their failures, but also their triumphs – and they’ll know they did it on their own.
Encourage Them to Try New Things
Being independent means walking your own path, wherever it may take you. Set your kids up to find their own path by letting them explore an assortment of interests. If they’ve wanted to play baseball, get them on a team. Does your child find science fascinating? Maybe they’d enjoy chemistry club. They won’t be great at everything they try (and that’s perfectly fine); but in the process they’ll gain confidence in their own decision-making process, and possibly pick up a fun new hobby at the same time.
Let Them Go
Sometimes the best thing for a child is a little distance. Being away from family and friends can be an uneasy experience, but a little separation can lead to a lot of growth. One of the advantages of going to a boarding school, for example, is that children quickly learn to be independent and responsible. There are also summer camp programs that will separate you for a few weeks, giving your child an opportunity to learn and grow without the luxury of a parental safety net.
Being independent isn’t just about your child. Parents and caregivers need to take a step back and give children room to grow. This can be just as hard (if not more so) for the parents than the children. Now we’re not saying you need to hand over the reins to your children entirely – they’re definitely not ready for that. Just be mindful of giving them their space, listening to them, and being positive about their decisions. They’ll always rely on you, and know that when they turn to you for advice you’ll be a source of support instead of someone they need to fight. Independence can be a rocky road for everyone involved, but at the end of the day raising an independent child leaves them more prepared to handle whatever the world throws their way.