Our jobs as parents are to mold and teach this little person that was given to us to be a functional adult. One way that we do that is by teaching independence. Now, I do not mean that you kick your six year old out of the house to fend for himself. I mean preparing your child to function as an adult on his own when the time comes. Here are some helpful tips to start teaching independence.
1. Give children appropriate responsibilities. As adults we all know that responsibilities are one of the things that we all have day in and day out. Your children are going to have those as well. Having a sense of responsibility makes you feel that you have a purpose. It makes you feel that you are needed and wanted. Children need to feel that way as well. When we give out responsibilities make sure it is a task that your child can successfully handle. Do not set them up for failure. Also let them do it. You can instruct them on how it is done but let them do it. If Brad is responsible for the trash and he may not be coming home, it is his responsibility to get some one to take out the trash for him.
2. Let them find their way. I know that Savanah may not make up the bed with those sharp military corners that you like. But she does get up every morning and makes up her bed to the best of her ablity. Please do not go back and remake her bed because it is not up to your standards. I saw a post the other day that said that 8+1=9 but so does 5+4. We are getting the same answer but using different methods. Same thing with your child. They get the job completed but they may do it their way. That is what you want for your child, for them to think for themselves.
3.Be consistent. This is always a big thing in your parenting journey. Children pick up on inconsistencies and they start becoming inconsistent themselves. Be an example. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
4. Help them make healthy decisions. Let them decide on what they want to wear shorts in 30 degree weather explain to them why this is not a good decision. Then let them show you what would be the best thing for them to wear. Celebrate their good decisions.
5.Help your child talk through solutions. Be a listening ear. If you let your child talk through situations they will be able to find suitable solutions or almost suitable. They may need a nudge here and there but let them come up with the solution to their problems.
6.Create opportunities for your child to be independent. Let them choose what is for dinner one night. Give them a part of the grocery list and let your children go in pairs to pick those things out. Let them redecorate their room. Give them an opportunity to be independent.
7. Set some clear expectations. Let them know that they are an important part of this family and with that comes expectations that they must follow. Such as curfews, unplugging at the dinner table, or cleaning their room. Let them know what that means to you and what those things look like. Also give them instructions and make sure that they understand fully, even if you have to repeat it a couple of times.
8.Be Open. Be open to them figuring out the world on their own. Give them some healthy space. Let them work through tough situations. When they ask you what you think about something. A good thing to say is “I will always have advice for you and I am so glad you came to me. However, I first want to hear what you think you should do.” This creates dialogue between you and your child creating a strong bond between you two.
9. Let them fail to their way to success. I know that you have been through so many life failures however those things helped to groom you into the person that you are today. The same goes for your child. I know that it breaks your heart to see your child hurt, disappointed, or sad. However those emotions and situations builds character. So sometimes you have to let them fail but be right there to comfort, talk to them about what they can do differently next time, and listen to them. Which brings me to number ten.
10. Let them know you are there for them. You are their support system. They look to you as an example and as a sounding board throughout their life. Let them know that you are challenging them to be the best them that they can be, but you will always be there when they need you. You may not always pick up the pieces however you are there to give encouragement or to be their rock.