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3 simple ways to instill independence in your child

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Do you find you and your spouse doing everything for your kid(s)? Even for the simplest things? Do you worry that when they become adults,

they will have difficulty being independent? Here's how you can build your kid(s)'

independence in 3 simple ways.


Start early

How early? As early as two years old. Yes, you heard me. At two, a child can fully understand you, speak your language fluently, and physically able to do many things. There are tell-tale signs that they are ready:

  1. Feed themselves

  2. Tell you they want to go potty

  3. Stop you from doing a certain thing for them

If your child is ready, but you are not, then, you need to ask yourself, are YOU ready to allow your child to walk the path towards independence? If yes, read on.


Examples of activities for a two-year old child:

  1. Tidy up after playing

  2. Bring or locate items (fetch a phone, book, shoe, socks)

  3. Turn lights on/off


Tips:

  1. Do not create it. It has to be a natural need in your family.

  2. Make it fun, like a game. Cheer when he/she accomplishes it.

  3. Give sincere appreciation. Look into his/her eyes, say thank you genuinely, and if possible, give a hug.

  4. Give praise. Tell him/her how well he/she has tidied up.


Be Consistent


Repetition is everything. Your child will do it better every time the action is repeated. That success builds confidence, and it establishes a strong sense of his/her ability of being able to do things on his/her own.


Another bonus is, it builds good habits. For example, tidying up every single time after a playtime is over, will be established as a habit. Eventually, he/she will automatically do it without you asking.


Make Chores Fun


Who likes chores? No one, I'll bet. Chores can be fun! For example, while washing dishes, we can enjoy the bubbles we make and make squeaky clean sounds from the plates. While cleaning the bathroom, we can turn it into a competition of how fast we can get it done! Here are some chores you can assign to your child:


  1. Feed the pet fish/hamster/cat/dog (>3)

  2. Water the plants (>3)

  3. Get a glass of water (>3)

  4. Carry light-weight groceries (>3)

  5. Make the bed (>4)

  6. Throw out the trash (>4)

  7. Bring down the dirty laundry (>4)

  8. Wipe the dining table (>4)

  9. Watch little brother/sister (read a book, sing, talk) (>4)

  10. Clean your own dish (the dish they use, they clean) (>5)

  11. Bring dirty dishes from the dining table to the kitchen sink (>6)

  12. Clean the dining table after a meal (>6)

  13. Walk the dog (>7)

  14. Clean the bathroom (>7)

  15. Make simple breakfast (cereal, sandwich) (>7)

How to start? Here's how:

  1. Have them do it together with you. You show them the right way to do it.

  2. Repeatedly do this together until you test them if they can instruct you how to do it step by step.

  3. The next time you do it, allow them to do parts of the chore. Make it fun!

  4. When you think they are ready, most of the time they will tell you that they can do it all, then let them do it while you watch.

  5. Whether it is done right or wrong, remember to appreciate them and praise the areas they have done well. Then show them how to do it better.

  6. The next time you want to get the chore done, pretend you are physically unable, and that you really need your child to help you get it done. Their empathy will show up, their sense of protectiveness over you will rise up, and they will give their very best to help you. Praise them when it is done, especially the fact that if without them, you would be in a dilemma.

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