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.