One of our biggest goals as parents is to raise children who will eventually become independent and self-reliant individuals. While your children count on you for nearly everything in early development, as they start to grow they become less reliant on you and gain more independence. When children begin to feel self-sufficient, it can make life at home much easier. As parents, we can often get caught in a trap where we do too much for our children or rely too much on teachers or daycares to teach our children certain life skills. It’s important for us to take time at home to help teach our kids essential life skills in order to be more self-reliant.
Here are a few ways to let your children practice independence at home.
Encourage them to eat like an adult
Let’s be honest, toddler’s can be picky eaters. Offering them a variety of foods at mealtime not only increases the odds of them finding something they like to eat, it also gives them that grown-up feeling of choosing what they want for dinner, just like adults do. However, we all know that children aren’t the best at making decisions, especially when they have a lot of options, so be sure to offer them limited choices.
Rather than asking them if they want vegetables for dinner, try phrasing it like this, “We have two vegetable choices for dinner. Should we have broccoli or carrots?” This takes away the bigger question, “Do you want vegetables?” and instead allows your child to feel like they are in control of their dinner choices. It also gives them the opportunity to make decisions for the entire family.
Let them pick out their own clothes
Not only is getting dressed on their own a major milestone for your child, it also gives you extra time in the morning to get ready yourself. While most kids won’t master this skill until grade school, you can start to plant the seed by asking them to decide what outfit they want to wear for the day starting at a younger age. Clothing brands like Lularoe are perfect for younger girls because they’re both comfortable and stylish. Not to mention, they’re diverse selection is easy to mix and match. You can even score Lularoe looks for less at thrift stores or online consignment shops like thredUP.
Make them ruler of their toys
Playing with toys can benefit your children at a young age. Did you know that having your children clean up their toys can have many benefits? This is a great way to practice responsibility with your younger children. They may not be capable of big cleanups, but if they’re able to remove all of their toys from their toy box, then they’re also coordinated enough to put them back in once playtime is over. Rather than making it feel like a chore, crown your child as Ruler of the Toy Box and explain to them that as rulers they are responsible for all of their toys returning “home” after their adventures in the kingdom are over.
Let them get their own snacks
Keep kid-friendly snacks accessible to your children so they can easily retrieve them. Individually packaged items can be placed on a low shelf in your pantry, while items like pretzels can be separated into sandwich bags so your child can grab and go. When snack time comes, tell your child to grab a snack from the shelf. You may follow them into the kitchen the first few times to supervise, but eventually this can be something your child does on their own. Your child will feel proud of themselves for picking out their snack all on their own!
Meet them halfway
If your child is reluctant about being more independent, try encouraging them by splitting the task at hand. For example, if your child puts on their left shoe, you put on the right one. Encourage them as they do things and celebrate the “wins” as they start to take on more tasks on their own.