The importance of teaching our children to be independent
As parents it’s tempting to do everything for our children and often WANT to do it, as well as it being easier and faster! Teaching them independence from an early age has the most impact to build a child’s self-esteem and confidence.
A child’s brain starts developing from day one and by acknowledging that they’re capable of doing things for themselves, we as parents can have a positive impact on their overall development, understanding of the world, self-confidence, as well as emotional maturity. When a child feels empowered, they want to do more.
Children learn by watching those around them and model their parents.
For example, when a child starts to feed themselves, it not only helps with sensory development, and meal times become a social event. They might start by eating with their fingers and progress to cutlery once their skills develop over time. We might need to deal with a ‘mess’ and should welcome this as it is about the experiences for the child.
For children there is no right or wrong way to eat. Eating with the fingers is the best way to start. www.babyledweaning.com
So what small changes can we make every day to nurture independence?
Set realistic targets. Allow the child to go through the process over and over to make the experience a learning curve and fun. Enjoy the time with your child and bestow a lot of praise. Adding pressure builds up stress for parents and children.
Very early on we should be encouraging children to eat by themselves, wash their hands and sit at a table with their parents for mealtime with the family. There are some activities that children can help with too, such as packing toys away and pushing a baby shopping trolley. As children get older, their independence grows along with their self-confidence, therefor they will want to participate and contribute more.
We should encourage this from little things like, throwing their bib in the laundry basket, fetching shoes when it’s time to leave the house, putting their shoes on by themselves, wiping their face with a wash cloth and happily playing alone.
We can stimulate the children by singing together as we clean up (sing ‘Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share’) and appreciate these moments with your child. Give them your full attention and focus. Take a break from your phone and your laptop. It might take a little time - a child learns to talk by being spoken to, by experiencing and articulating sounds / words and then one day a sentence will form.
As our children navigate their way through life, learning right from wrong, forming opinions and personalities, the independence they acquire from an early age can put them in great stead for taking on challenges with confidence. Support your child, by encouraging them to help themselves.