Rockabye Early Learning Centre takes the care and education of young children seriously. Today centre owner Caryn Mawkes has some practical and helpful tips to encourage independence.
“Most parents experience a time when they’re torn between wanting their children to remain a baby forever, but at the same time wondering when they will be independent enough to do things on their own.”
As educators we are aware that children strive to be independent from an early age. As part of this process it is important for parents to encourage greater independence gradually but genuinely, as children grow.
As parents’ role is one of easing fear, showing what is possible and providing a sense of security. Some key points to remember at home are; let them solve simple problems, resist doing jobs for them and don’t re-do what they’ve done already. Finally, praise your children and let them know you are noticing and appreciating their efforts to become more independent.
Here are some practical tips that will encourage your child’s independence.
1. Help children make decisions by offering small choice of what story to read or which t-shirt to wear.
2. Give them small responsibilities, such as putting away toys or helping you to prepare their lunch box.
3. Involve them in the weekly shopping by following simple instructions, such as “can you fetch me three red apples”, or “can you get the bread from the bottom shelf”.
4. Show enthusiasm when children try to help, even if it takes longer, (recognise any tasks achieved as an accomplishment).
5. Praise their ability; it is important for children to believe they are capable of doing things alone.
Do not do for your children what they can do for themselves.
6. Tempting as it is to say, “I’ll do it” say, “Let me show you how”. This way, your child is learning new skills and not just relying on you to do everything for them.
7. Encourage children to feed themselves. Yes, this can be messy, but it’s also a huge achievement.
8. It is important to point out why things are dangerous or unacceptable without belittling the motivation to do things on their own. For example, using a sharp knife to help with dinner may seem like a good idea when your child has seen you do the same, but a butter knife is more appropriate.
9. Avoid using “No!” unless something is dangerous or clearly wrong, (safety is paramount).
10. Provide guidance with consistent and clear guidance. This gives clarity to children and helps them learn what is expected of them.
We all know that children of any age always strive for more independence. Parents need to encourage the transition to greater independence gradually but genuinely. Their role includes easing fear, showing what is possible and providing a sense of security. So, start encouraging your child to try and do new things for him or herself.