11 Jul 3 Things You Can Do Every Day to Encourage Your Child’s Independence
One of the most common challenges that families experience in their homes is getting their children to independently complete tasks and activities. Constantly reminding your child what to do each day can be exhausting and overwhelming for everyone involved. However, there are some practical strategies that you can immediately implement, so that your child can be more independent and you don’t have to feel so stressed.
Give him extra time
Your child may need more time to complete certain tasks, especially self-help skills. Giving your child this extra space to complete an activity may take a ton of effort on your part, but the rewards can be tremendous. When you give your child an additional five or ten minutes, he is not going to feel so rushed. He may have time to put his shoe on, remember his backpack, or turn off the light behind him.
Mornings may be especially difficult for your family, even more so if your child has challenges getting his body going when he first wakes up. Try waking him up a few minutes earlier, so that he can have more time to do his daily morning activities.
When we are always in a hurry to get things done, our children feel the pressure. This can lead to everyone being overwhelmed and absolutely nothing getting accomplished. So take a deep breath and slow down a bit.
Give him an opportunity to figure things out on his own
It’s so easy to do everything for your child, especially when you are in a hurry and rushing out the door. However, many skills take tons of practice, and your child needs trial and error to be successful. He also needs to experience his environment in his own way.
If we are always doing things for our children, we are not giving them the opportunity to even ask for help. If your child feels frustrated, give him the time and space to work through those emotions. It’s okay if your child gets a little stressed figuring out how to pour water into a cup. It’s fine if he feels annoyed if a piece on his toy truck fell off and he can’t figure out how to get it back on. Allow him to feel frustrated, so that he can appropriately learn how to ask for help.
When you see him having a difficult time, give him a moment to independently reach out to you (as long as he is not harming himself, others, or property). If he is not asking for help, you can step in and say, “I can see you are feeling frustrated. Do you need help. Ask Mom, will you help me fix this please?”
Visual tools are great for promoting independence. By posting rules, task strips that break down activities into individual steps, and visual schedules, you are giving your child opportunities to complete tasks without him having to rely on your verbal reminders. Visuals help children understand expectations, remind them of what is happening next, and encourage independence across environments.
Try these three strategies every day, and your child will be closer to independently completing more tasks. As with everything, breathe, be patient, and know that you are not alone.
When it comes to your child’s independence, what does he or she struggle with the most?