Promoting independence - top tips for parents

Parenting NI

A parent’s natural instinct is to care for, nurture and to do things for their children. Whilst all children need to be looked after, nurtured and loved, they also need to gradually (at an age appropriate level), be given the opportunity to develop independence and responsibility. By encouraging independence in children we are letting them know we believe they are capable,  this in turn helps to build their confidence.

Assign responsibility 

Regardless of the age of your child, they need to develop skills for independence. Encourage your child to take responsibilities when they are able to do so, such as putting toys away, helping getting dinner ready or washing up.

Provide opportunities

It can be tempting to say “let me do it” or “I’ll show you”, but by giving children the opportunity to practice independence your child will be learning new skills and be less likely to rely on you to do things for them as they get older.

Offer choices

Allowing your child to make decisions such as what story they would like to read at bedtime or a choice of which t-shirt they would like to wear helps support growing independence.

Be enthusiastic

Show enthusiasm when your child tries to help, even if it means it takes longer. Recognise any tasks they complete and praise their ability in doing so as it shows you have faith in their capability.

Get children involved

Get your child involved in tasks such as the weekly shop, this will help them to understand the value of money. As your child gets older gradually give them the responsibility of paying for little things they would like out of their pocket money.

Teach life lessons

As children get older, use ordinary household events such as paying bills to make children aware of adult responsibilities. To further develop financial capabilities and manage their own money, encourage them to open a bank or building society account. 

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