The Independent Child
When my youngest child was just over one year old, I took him to run errands with a friend. As I was leaving the house, I put my son down and helped him walk down the stairs. As my friend watched from her car, she hollered out, “What are you doing, trying to make him grow up too fast?” I have thought about that a lot as I watch my son learn to do things for himself. I don’t want him to grow up too fast but I want him to learn and develop. Creating an independent child has a lot more to do with the parent than with the child. As a parent, we have to be able to let go and allow our children to try and fail.
Sometimes this is too difficult for a parent, who will step in and assist. Unfortunately, our human nature often requires that we fail at something before we can learn how to succeed. When a mother or father steps in for the child, they are taking away that learning opportunity. Start out small. Teach your child something simple that they can try for themselves.
Even children just learning to walk can be taught to do things for themselves. Give them a box to put toys in. Little kids love to put things in boxes. Show them how to clean up their toys, and give them a big smile and lots of praise when they do it. Two year olds can learn to make their beds. Resist the urge to go fix the bedspread when they are done. Let them do it themselves, and tell them how great they are when they do it. Creating independence is a lot about letting go of our own fears and having faith in our children. It’s an important part of growing up, and one we shouldn’t deny our children of learning.
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