5 tips to help give your child become independent

February 23, 2016

The moment your baby is born, he or she will depend on you for, well, everything. Eventually your little one will start to learn how to accomplish everyday tasks on his or her own. But to get to this point, you will need to help by steering the way and giving necessary guidance.

Teach your child how to become independent with these five tips: 

1. Understand the stages of development 
What tasks is your child capable of doing on his or her own? This mostly depends on the age of your child and the developmental stage he or she falls into, as The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning states.

  • At the age of eight to 18 months, your child will start learning how to drink from a cup, trying to use a spoon to eat, or use his or her fingers to pick up food. Around this time, your little one may also begin getting dressed or undressed, with your assistance, as well as start to understand or at least get a sense of a bedtime and morning routine.
  • From 18 to 36 months, your child may begin washing hands with your assistance, tackling the concept of consuming food with a spoon, and start to be able to use the toilet or in the process of potty training. Your little one may also get into the habit of putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket. 
  • At the age of three years old your child may be brushing teeth with a bit of your help, combing hair, putting on shoes, throwing out trash and washing his or her hands along with drying them without your help.
  • As your child reaches the age of four or five, he or she will definitely be on the way toward independence- being capable of using silverware during meals, dressing and picking out outfits, completely brushing teeth without your help and washing up while taking a bath..

"Introduce your child to a new task every week."

2. Introduce new tasks
Give your child a sense of independence through demonstration. Training your child with each task can be easy by simply demonstrating how to do it step-by-step. Parents magazine recommends introducing your child to a new task every week.

If your child is young and in the beginning stages of learning how to be independent, duties like cleaning up toys or putting away clothes in the appropriate drawers is a great first step. If your child is old enough to take part in more challenging tasks like setting the table or organizing a book shelf, assist him or her and have it become a part of an everyday list of chores. Give your child the opportunity to try engaging on his or her own and help if need be. 

3. Give positive encouragement
Any amount of effort put forth from your child when he or she is first trying to become self-reliant should be embraced. Positive encouragement, no matter how little the task at hand, can help build confidence, especially if your child is at a young age, around the time of being a toddler. Your child will gain more of a desire to take part in these independent activities to receive good feedback and make Mom and Dad proud.

"Toddlerhood is a crucial time and the precursor to adolescence, so parents should praise even the smallest accomplishments at first -- putting on their socks, pouring their own juice -- to advance them on the path to self-reliance," Dr. Frances Walfish, author of "The Self-Aware Parent" and a child and parent psychotherapist told Parents magazine.

Patience goes a long way when teaching independence to your child.Be patient and positive as you teach your child how to be independent.

4. Remain patient even when times get tough
When your child is in preschool, most things have been done for him or her up until this point, so it's going to take more time, and be done so at a slower pace when accomplishing small tasks. It's important to take that into consideration and to be understanding while your child is learning new skills and transitioning from being dependent to independent.

Making sure your little one is given enough time to complete the tasks and avoiding being late to a play date or school, for example, allows for less stress and more of a willingness to get it done, according to Today's Parent magazine. Rushing your child will only turn into a negative situation.

5. Be a support system
Always ensure your child that you'll be there whenever he or she needs you, even though you're in the process of weaning your child off of you and encouraging him or her to be self-reliant.

It's okay if your little one does something wrong. Making mistakes is inevitable and it's sometimes the best way to learn. Sometimes you have to fall to get back up and try even harder.

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