Child independence: How to raise self-sufficient kids

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Encourage child indepence

Many parents get criticized for letting their kids ride their bikes on their own or play at the park with their friends. That makes many adults overprotective of their kids, coddling them more than is necessary to raise self-sufficient kids. Of course, today it does seem like there are more threats to children than ever, so it makes sense to hold them a little tighter. But please don’t stop letting them grow. It is possible to keep your kids safe and let them stand on their own two feet. It’s just a case of getting the balance right to encourage child independence.

Why is child independence important?

Whether co-parenting or as single mom, naturally you want your kids to grow up into happy, healthy adults who successfully stand on their own two feet. In other words, you want them independent. But if you are overprotective of your daughter or son, it can impact them negatively over the years as they get very reliant on you.

If you instead teach your kids how to stand on their own two feet and what the value of independence is from a young age, they have a much better chance of growing as self-sufficient kids into successful adults. Here’s how to do exactly that.

For more self-sufficient kids, get them cooking with you

Research shows that 28% of adults can’t cook. Sure, they can make toast, cereal, or a sandwich, but they don’t know how to cook proper meals. That means that almost a third of the population relies on ready-made meals, delivery, and junk food to get by. Scary, isn’t it?

Not only are most of those food options unhealthy but you also are relying on someone else to feed you. This type of lifestyle can also quickly get expensive.

Yes, it’s clear that learning to cook is a vital life skill, especially if you want to encourage child independence. So, it’s a good idea to start teaching your kids to cook from a young age.

It could be baking oatmeal cookies or helping cook that legendary homemade soup of yours. It doesn’t really matter what you make together (although healthy, of course, is best); what’s important here is that your little ones start to find their way around the kitchen.

Then, as your kids get older, increase the amount of responsibility. Maybe you ask them to cook once a week, for example, to help them to master different meals.

Obviously supervise them to make sure they’re safe. Gently point out anything you see that could use improvement too. What’s great is that they are learning to do things for themselves – aka they’re becoming self-sufficient kids.

Teach your kiddo how to budget

About 80% of Americans live with debt. That means that almost the entire U.S. population has some form of debt, such as outstanding credit card payments.

While sometimes owing money is unavoidable, in most cases it’s the spending choices you make that lead to debt. For example, getting a brand new car rather than a more affordable one a year or two old.

As a parent, the last thing that you want is your kids getting into debt. To help them avoid money problems as adults, they’ll need to know how to live within their means when they get out on their own in the world. The question is, how can you teach them that skill?

An essential thing is to teach them to budget from an early age. The lessons can be as simple as giving them a monthly allowance and explaining that it needs to last the whole month.

If they spend it all at once and you refuse to give them any more money, they will soon learn how to budget. That or they’ll be really grumpy.

Another way to teach your kids how to budget properly as they get older is to introduce them to apps and websites that offer coupons and more. These resources make cutting costs that little bit easier.

Often, the reason that people get into debt is because they don’t know how to budget properly and make their money go far.  So, teach your youngsters how to budget to be self-sufficent kids who take that important skill into adulthood.

Let them make their own choices

Sometimes kids who struggle as adults have come from very strict homes. That could be because they’ve never had the freedom to make their own decisions and don’t know how to deal with it later on.

When you think about it this way, what can be helpful is to start letting your little girl or boy make their own decisions from a young age. Let them experience some freedom before adulthood.

Obviously, allowing your kids to make their own choices includes activities such as asking them to choose what they would like for dinner or where you spend the weekend, rather than whether they can drive the family vehicle at age 12. Ahem, common sense, really.

So, why give the child independence like this? It lets them feel the freedom that comes with adulthood.

As they get older, give them more choices with more responsibilities. Doing so allows them more chances to weigh options and make the right choices for them. It’s little things like this that help to prepare kids for adult life.

3 ways to raise self-sufficient kids

Give your kids responsibilities

Want your children to succeed as adults? Then what you need to do is give them obligations from a young age.

These duties don’t have to be anything overly serious. Simply choose small chores that you want them to complete and keep on top of.

For example, for 5 year olds, age-appropriate chores include putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Meanwhile, for kids of 6-9 years old, age-appropriate responsibilities include:

  • Setting the table for dinner
  • Watering the plants
  • Feeding pets

That list shows some examples of suitable chores that build child independence. It’s not an exhaustive listing by any means; use your imagination and what works with your household.

The idea here is that if you want your kids to grow into well-rounded adults, it’s important to teach them how to be responsible from an early age. That’s the way to raise self-sufficient kids.

Giving your kids chores can teach them how important it is to stay on top of things. Thus, they’ll learn skills such as effective time management.

In adult life, managing your time well is crucial. Between work, chores at home, and family, there often seems to be less time in the day than is needed to do everything that must be done. Being able to multi-task and organize your schedule are all part of making the most of your days in adulthood.

That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your little ones learn it now. When they move out on their own one day (yes that’ll happen!), they will have the ability to take on responsibilities without feeling overwhelm and they’ll thank you for it. Plus, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that you’ve raised self-sufficient kids who will go out and rock the world as powerful women and men.

For child independence: Praise them now

Whether they’re a tot or a teen, if you want them to successfully stand on their own two feet, you need to praise them. Why, exactly?

Praise from parents is a useful tool to building self-esteem in your offspring. In turn, that can impact their ability to be happy, well-rounded, and independent adults.

However, it is possible to overdo it, as recent research shows that it’s important not to use extra or inflated praise. The study published in the Psychological Science journal found that showering kids with an adundance of praise can actually lower self-esteem rather than improving it, despite the parent’s good intention.

An explanation for this occurrence is that those with low self-esteem will be anxious about maintaining the high level of praise and be less likely to try something new for fear of mistakes.

To avoid that scenario, it’s important that parents use positive reinforcement yet don’t use words that are all-encompassing, such as “always,” or to get them out of a troublesome situation without giving them time first to try to do so themselves.

Lastly, don’t exagerate or lie when your child does average at something by saying they’re amazing at it. That gives the youth a false sense of reality that won’t help them when they’re out on their own in the “real” world one day.

Instead, stick to praising your kids when they’ve done something well. Makes sense, right? What that looks like can vary, such as completing their chores on time without being nagged to do so.

Believe it or not, telling your child that you are proud of them for their hard work can have a huge impact. It can help their confidence to grow. You’re fostering child independence when you say how proud you are of them.

Send your kids out into the world

A lot of parents choose to hold their kids extra tight because of the dangers of the world. But that’s not going to help if you want to raise self-sufficient kids.

It might be daunting to send your boy or girl out into the world one day, yes. But it’s part of your job as a parent to help them grow.

So don’t be afraid to let your children go on school trips to a different city, for example, if they have proper supervision. Don’t hold them back from going to a reputable camp because you need to let them see the world.

If you want your children to learn how to stand on their own two feet, then give them the chance to do so. By letting them go and do things without you by their side, you are encouraging child independence.

Obviously, make sure there are responsible adults there with them before giving the go-ahead. Remember that one of the reasons a lot of elementary schools do small trips for kids is to help them to learn to be more independent. So, clearly, it’s important to let your youngin’ explore the world.

Concluding thoughts on child independence

As a parent, teach your kids how to stand on their own two feet and value their independence. It’s not always something that’s easy to do, no.

But by taking the right steps it’s possible to help your kids to grow into happy, healthy, and successful adults. That’s largely because they have the skills to stand firmly on their own.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Lovely post, Christy. I strongly believe that encouraging children to assume age-appropriate responsibilities is the best way to teach them to care for themselves, and others, as they grow. At my house we always used a “chore-chart” that listed daily and weekly jobs my kids had to perform, in order to earn their allowance. By doing so, they were rewarded for developing habits that would help them become successful individuals and better employees when they grew up.

    • The chore-chart sounds like it was a great way to teach them responsibilities, Amy. Those actions then simply become part of the week and they have a smoother transition into adulthood, with all of its responsibilities. I liked hearing more about your kids (adults now!) in your other comment ♥

  2. This is an excellent perspective and I couldn’t agree with you more. I just wrote a post about sending my son to sleepaway camp even though many don’t understand how I ship him off. Also talk to our kids very realistically about money and the need to work to support your needs- and, ok, wants too. The praise thing is tricky bc you want them to know pride without expecting praise for everything they do- that can be disappointing over the long term! Going to address that topic soon!

    • Great feedback here on what works for you and doesn’t so much.. I like what you say about not praising too much – it’s a fine line, right?! On that note, I wish bosses praised employees more (often from what I gather it’s sorely lacking in many workplaces today). I appreciate the reads/comments/discussions :)

    • The bit about praising children caught my attention, too, because of the concern for too much praise. I’ve read a few articles that made the point about the quality of praise: instead of telling your child “good job” for everything, tell them how neatly they folded the clothes, or what a great attitude they showed while putting away the dishes or point out that the fun you’re having in this moment is possible because the child helped clear the table and now you have more time to play.
      I enjoyed this post, Christy.

  3. This is great, Christy. And as someone who’s worked in education for a long time, kiddos who haven’t stood on their two feet have a tough time adjusting to life in college, too. I’ve seen it firsthand: the ones who were never, ever allowed to touch a drop of alcohol, for example, seem to go crazy when they get to college. My parents let me have wine as a teenager from time to time – and on special occasions. Just a little bit. But, by the time I got to college, it wasn’t this “forbidden” thing. Same with other responsibilities: I did a lot of those things as a kid and transitioning to adulthood wasn’t that bad. :) Great advice here!

    • That’s interesting about the alcohol thing and how it wasn’t this “I must try it” thing then once you were of legal age. Thanks for sharing what worked with your family, Cynthia! Cheers ;) Always great to see you xx

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