How to Develop Independence in Your Child

Among the challenges and joys of parenthood are raising, providing for, and taking care of a young child. Parents develop intensely strong bonds doing things for our children especially during the infant and toddler years, though it is important to know where to draw the line. Doing everything for a child could eventually result in his or her inability to develop particular life skills that will be needed later on in life. As a parent, it is important to strike a keen balance between taking care of your child and fostering a sense of independence and self-reliance.

Even from the youngest age, a child will naturally try to gain some form of independence. Independence traits in a child may be exhibited in small ways, such as insisting on choosing their own clothes, pouring their own beverages, or even going to the bathroom unaccompanied. As a parent, it is crucial that you encourage the choices that your child makes (when appropriate) rather than continually questioning or discouraging them.

Different kinds of independence

Developing self-reliant children can occur in a variety of ways. In many households, children are required to perform tasks on their own just as a matter of circumstance or style of living. In these cases, independence becomes quite a natural trait, leading to children becoming intrinsically motivated. Professionally-supervised activities that focus on self-improvement, such as karate training, are proven to give children a sense of independence and individual accomplishment.

In other cases, developing a child’s sense of independence may require parents to provide some kind of incentive or reward, like a trip to the park or arcade, an extra hour of TV time, or similar. Parents need to be careful in choosing the rewards, though: over-rewarding can be as detrimental to his or her developmental processes as neglecting to offer praise and feedback at all.

Balancing love and practicality

Ultimately, developing a sense of independence in your child means striking a keen balance between supporting them 100% and giving them the freedom to win or lose on their own occasionally. These two sides of the parenting coin are not mutually exclusive. Understanding the cognitive development level of your child at each age is also important, especially when it comes to choosing which tasks you would like your child to perform independently and which tasks he or she will still require some assistance with. As a child grows and becomes familiar with performing certain tasks on his or her own, you can then encourage them to get involved with more complex tasks to further build their independence quotient.

Developing an Attitude of Positivity in Your Child

In life, everyone faces ups and downs all the time. Very rarely do things go exactly according to the plans that we have laid out for ourselves, and more often than not, we have to adapt to different situations as best we can. However, many people – adults included – find it extremely difficult to maintain a positive outlook in the face of an obstacle, change, or setback. One of the key traits of the most successful people in the world is the ability to remain optimistic and hopeful, committing to persevere in the face of adversity.

For a better future

Teaching children how to have a positive attitude for approaching life situations at the earliest ages will do wonders for their growth in the future. Fortunately there are some simple ways that parents can help their children realize the true worth of having a positive attitude – and sticking by it – especially when the chips are down.

Some experts have suggested that one of the best ways that children learn about positive attitudes is simply observing and discussing behaviors of positive people around them. As a parent, you may want to periodically encourage your child to to think about how certain ‘optimistic’ or ‘positive’ people in their lives are similar. In doing so, a child may come to realize a number of similarities and choose to develop those positive traits in themselves.

Keeping track

Another important technique that parents use is encouraging their children to keep track of their attitudes from day to day. Does a child behave differently on different days? Which attitude makes them happier? Moreover, when facing a difficulty, is there something a child can do to turn his or her attitude around? Can they influence the attitudes of their teammates or opponents? Over time, children will be able to better answer these questions to the point where the lessons become internalized. Taking up classes like music or karate will help boost the spirit, language, and environment of positivity in your child.

Finally, having a positive attitude also means taking responsibility for the particular situation that one is in. A parent should encourage his or her child to think about the ways in which an obstacle can be conquered, rather than just telling him or her what to do. Children must learn to view difficulties as challenges rather than anchors in their lives, and tackle them head on. It is the most gratifying thing to have conquered hardships on one’s own.