Posted on Jul 12th 2022
Children learn to make choices and become their own person as they grow. This is exhilarating for a child but can also be particularly frustrating for parents. Many parents associate independence with stubbornness, but that shouldn't be the case! At Romp n' Roll Pittsburgh East, we believe in promoting independence in children because it helps them develop their identity and sets them up for success in the future! Below we have laid out a few tips to promote independence in your child while fostering a good relationship with them.
A straightforward way to foster independence in your child is to offer them choices. You can do this by offering multiple food choices at snack or meal times, letting them pick between a few shirts to wear in the morning, or choosing what cup to use for juice. You can even offer choices when there isn't technically a choice, like at bedtime or leaving the house. If it's time for bed, you can offer an option like, "would you like to walk to bed or skip?" Or, when leaving the house, you can say, "would you rather hold my hand or get a piggyback ride?" Offering choices like this gives children a chance to think for themselves and develop independence.
Kids can often do more than we think they can! Give them opportunities to hold their lunchbox, put on their shoes, or pour themselves a drink of water. Letting kids do these sorts of tasks on their own helps grow their independence, and they'll also start doing other things on their own. Another great way to create opportunities is by assigning household chores to your child. Let your kids help set the table, make their bed, or even empty small trashcans around the house. Not only does this help develop your child's independence, but it also has the added benefit of helping you around the house!
Part of promoting independence in children is providing time for them to do things independently. We know it can be frustrating to be in a hurry and have your child lag behind and perform a task slowly. But allowing your child more time to do the job will be better for everyone.
It can be difficult as a parent to realize your child is 100 percent their own person. Yes, they rely on you for everything, but they still have their own thoughts, emotions, and experiences. We need to recognize and respect that and allow them to grow into themselves and experience some independence.
If your child is being stubborn, they probably want more freedom. If your child pushes back on something, stand firm and make your expectations clear. Being consistent is key. If there is a daily power struggle, try to prepare for it. Let your child know your expectations and try to offer choices in the moment to allow things to go smoothly. If the power struggle is time–related, such as trying to leave the house on time or going to bed on time, see if you can allow more time for your child to transition.
Children learn so much through play! When playing with your child, offer options, model independence, and make choices. Engage with your children by inviting them to help with meal preparation, sing silly songs with them in the car, and have conversations about their day. Engaging and playing with your children fosters a deep connection and relationship.
Promoting independence in your children can cause some growing pains. Still, by using our tips and sticking to them, you'll see your children grow into beautifully independent and incredible little people.
At Romp n' Roll Pittsburgh East we take your children's independence seriously. Our classes promote individualism for kids through our activities and lessons. The joyful leaders work with the kids to learn how to do things independently and make their own choices. We do all of this through exciting play and imagination. Romp n' Roll Pittsburgh East is the perfect activity for a growing toddler learning to be independent. Sign up for one of our classes today!