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6/23/23 blog post

10 tips for raising independent kids

dad and son prepping tray of roasted veggiesOne goal most parents have is to raise confident, independent children who are eventually capable of taking care of themselves. Here are a few tips on how to foster independence in our children.

1. Let children do things for themselves.

While it may be easier to do things yourself, this doesn’t teach your children anything about the tasks at hand. Show them, teach them, and then let your children do things on their own.

2. Give children responsibilities.

Everyone lives in your home and makes messes, so everyone should help to keep the house clean. Chores help teach children valuable life skills, responsibility, and respect for themselves and others.

3. Teach children life skills.

Knowledge of basic life skills including cooking, laundry, and managing money (how to save and spend) will help children grow into independent adults.

4. Teach children how to care for others.

By caring for others, children learn important lessons regarding responsibility and the need to think of others. Start by allowing your children to care for a pet (you can begin small with a fish), or allowing older children to care for a younger sibling.

5. Allow children to work out conflicts themselves.

Teach your children how to resolve conflicts with siblings or peers (e.g., negotiating, compromising) so they will know how to handle these situations without your help.

6. Create an independent environment.

Allow your children to make some of their own choices (this can range from choosing their clothing for the day to picking between a “regular” class and an “honors” class in school). Give your children space when they need it. Alone time can be healthy, allowing children to gather their thoughts and create their own plans.

7. Show confidence in your children.

Acknowledge your pride in your children’s accomplishments. Be sure to praise effort and work put into something rather than just praising success. If you only praise success, your children with learn to think failure is bad.

8. Teach children to advocate for themselves.

Don’t immediately rush in to “rescue” your children when a conflict or problem arises. Talk your children through different ways they can advocate for themselves, even engaging in some role-playing so your children can practice what they will say to stand up for themselves.

9. Encourage children to get outside their comfort zone.

Growth occurs when children take risks and step outside their comfort zones. Encourage your children to take risks, even when the possibility of failure is very real.

10. Let your children make mistakes and fail.

Teach your children that failure is one possible outcome that happens to everyone at times. It is not something that needs to be feared or avoided at all costs. Teaching your children it is okay to keep trying at something will give them the confidence to try new things in their adult life.

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Julie Stucke, PhD

behavioral health, psychology
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