How to Give Your Kids the Right Amount of Independence

Special guest post by Winter Amity, freelance writer on technology and parenting topics.

These days, children are exposed to a huge variety of media, and parents can get understandably upset about the kind of information they’re taking in. With mobile phones, tablets, computers and other technology now perpetually available to younger kids, there’s no wondering why parents have become stricter. As previously discussed on Strong for Parenting, however, this breeds children unequipped for the real world.

In order to raise kids who are responsible and resilient, parents need to give them a bit more independence. Most parents think that the only way to raise independent kids is to have them spend time away from them, such as sending to summer camps where they can learn different skills. Of course, the thought of being separated from their kids and being unable to make sure they’re safe at all times can drive some parents up the wall. But there are some things parents can do to teach their kids to be independent, as well as train themselves to be more relaxed about their children growing up and making their own choices.

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Photo by Emran Kassim via Flickr Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Assign age-appropriate responsibilities. The trick is to start small, giving your kids more freedom to try new experiences you’re comfortable with. Start by teaching them to do “grown-up” tasks. According to Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions, “Identify one new task per week that your child can do with a little training. Divide the task into steps and show the child how to do it — then make it ‘his job.’ These tasks may seem simple to us, but they help our kids develop a sense of confidence.” The best part is that you’ll be there to guide your child through every step of the way, slowly giving them more room to perform tasks by themselves and giving yourself the room to get used to the idea of their doing things without you.

Let them make choices. Identify activities and chores that your kids can do themselves, such as dressing themselves. They’ll come up with really funny outfits, but this lets you practice letting go as well, and letting them express themselves.

Change the way you talk to your kids. Jeanne Williams tells Today’s Parent that simply acknowledging the problem is great progress. When Williams realized she was doing more for her son than was necessary, she told him, “I’m sorry. I’ve been treating you like a little kid when you are ready to do some big-kid jobs!” She warns against using phrases like “You’re not a baby anymore.”

You may feel anxious about giving your kids the independence they need, but you can easily work your way towards it. Not only will you be stronger parents for it, you’ll be raising stronger, confident kids who are preparing for adult life.

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