Encouraging Independence, Part III

20130726_105937Once you start encouraging independent play and feeding, it should come naturally to both yourself and your child to allow independence in the other parts of their lives. Let them ‘have a go’ at things rather then automatically doing it for them!

Take their grand motor skills such as walking, running and climbing – once they are able to walk, let  them walk rather than carrying them. If you are out and about with the buggy, let them hop out and walk the final few metres to the car or front door. When you are going upstairs and downstairs, let them do it themselves, accompanying them but letting them do it ‘on their own’. Let them climb trees, benches, ladders and slides under your supervision. Allowing them to try it for themselves not only boosts their confidence, but it also lets them find their own limitations; and so even though they will most likely fall, they will learn how to fall without hurting themselves too badly. Bumps and grazed knees are as much a part of childhood as picnics and story-times! 😉

I previously wrote about children learning to dress themselves – this is another great way to encourage independence, even if they only manage to get their head through the sleeve or put both feet into one trouser leg; allowing them to attempt dressing themselves from a young age is how they will learn to dress themselves in time for starting school (when you really need them to have this skill so as to get out the door in time!) .

Giving them the opportunity to take care of their own personal hygiene is another building block to encourage independence. Washing their own hands and face, brushing their teeth and hair and cleaning themselves after the loo are all things that they can learn to do very effectively, all of which encourage them taking pride in themselves – not a bad trait in my book!

Encouraging babies and children to help with general household chores is a fantastic life lesson as well as being a great way of encouraging independence. There are loads of little ‘jobs’ that they can do which they will not only enjoy, but will also help them to grow into socially-balanced and confident people. Setting the table, emptying a section of the dishwasher, helping to clean the car, tidying a shelf in their room, unpacking a bag of shopping, putting simple things away (fruit in the fruit bowl for example), helping with the dusting, putting wrappers into the bin, clearing their plates from the table – these are all little things they can ‘help’ you with. You’ll find that they really enjoy working with you to get big jobs done!

The fact that you have confidence in their ability to do things for themselves does not go unnoticed by your child, and is reflected as their own self-confidence grows and grows. So from here on let your child ‘have a go’ rather then just doing it for them. It will not do any harm, but it will do a great deal of good for both your child and for your family as a whole! 🙂

Thanks for reading


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