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Child Independence: How to Teach Your Kids to Stand on Their Own

The joys of life, from a child's perspective

‘In today’s world 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. 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 Encourage Child Independence?

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 kids, 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 into successful adults. Here’s how to do that.

Get Your Little Ones 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; 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.

Teach Your Kids 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 choices that you make that lead to debt.

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. This can be as simple as giving them a monthly allowance and explaining to them 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.

Another way to teach your kids to budget 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 kids how to budget from a young age to help them stand on their own as adults.

Allow Them to 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 choices and don’t know how to deal with it later on. Therefore, it can be helpful to start letting kids make their own decisions from a young age. Let them experience some freedom before adulthood.

Obviously, allowing your kids to make their own choices, such as asking them to choose what they would like for dinner or where you spend the weekend, lets them feel the freedom that comes with adulthood. As they get older, give them more choices. 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.

Give Your Kids Responsibilities

Want your children to succeed as adults? Then what you need to do is give them responsibilities from a young age. These don’t have to be anything too serious. Simply 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 putting toys away after playing with them

Meanwhile, for kids of 6-9 years old, age-appropriate responsibilities include:

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

Those are some examples of age-appropriate chores that build child independence. That’s because 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.

Giving your kids chores can teach them how important it is to keep on top of things. They’ll learn to manage their time effectively. For adult life, effective time management is crucial. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your little ones learn it.

For Child Independence: Praise Them Now

If you want your kids to successfully stand on their own two feet, you need to praise them. It’s important as kids whose parents never praise them ten to lack self-esteem as adults. In turn, that can impact their ability to be happy, well-rounded, and independent adults.

To avoid that scenario, it’s important that parents use positive reinforcement. For example, praise your kids when they’ve done something well. 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 the child. It might be daunting to send your boy or girl out into the world one day. 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. 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. 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 kids 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. 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 two feet.

17 thoughts on “Child Independence: How to Teach Your Kids to Stand on Their Own”

  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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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 :)

    2. 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!

    1. 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

  4. lifeofastayathomemom

    Great read! This is the kind of parent I am to my children or at least I strive to be😁😁

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