Teaching children independent skills is a major part of their development, but it is not always easy and can be stressful at times. It is easy to take control when you notice your child is struggling, or you are in a rush. And while this may save time for you, it takes away important time for your child to develop life skills. Below are a few tips to help everyone involved.
- Give them the opportunity to do small tasks such as carry their own lunches, put away their toys, help with chores, put toothpaste on their toothbrush, or help in the kitchen.
- Allow them to pick out their clothes, healthy snacks, and activities. You can even give them 2 options of your choosing first. Example: “You may have apples or bananas, which would you like?”
- Add extra time to your schedule to allow them to try putting on their own shoes, jacket, walking to the car.
- Have clear and concise instructions. If you do not want to give your child a choice, turn your words into a statement “You need to get dressed before we leave”. Having clear expectations will help avoid power struggles.
- Play! Children learn through play. They will build better vocabulary skills and will practice the independent skills you are hoping to instill. Play will also give your child opportunities to solve small problems which will help their critical thinking skills.
- When your child is done with a task they performed, celebrate their victory with words of praise. Notice what your child did and how hard they worked to accomplish the task. “You put your lunch box in your backpack so we wouldn’t forget it, that was so helpful!”
- When you notice your child is struggling, wait a moment and see if they can solve the problem themselves. If they ask for help talk the problem/solution out with them. If they are still struggling feel free to intervene but talk with them about what it is you are doing so they can learn how to solve the problem for themselves next time.