Encouraging independence in young children
Young children have the desire to do things all by themselves. When children independently handle and complete tasks, it instills in them a sense of achievement and serves as a great motivator for them. While children feel the need to become independent, parent’s or other care givers play a crucial role in providing children opportunities.
Independence when simply put means taking control of one’s life. Although children are too young to do it, parents need to enable children. To foster independence, parents, teachers and other care givers need to provide love and support, encourage exploration and curiosity, and allow the child to make appropriate choices. This support and encouragement boosts the child’s confidence giving them a sense of importance. At the same time it is necessary to set certain rules and limits and respecting children’s choices where possible.
Provide young children opportunities and responsibilities that are age appropriate as they are still learning and developing. The children’s desire to accomplish a difficult task may lead to frustration. It is too much to expect the task to be perfect. Perfection is not the main objective, but involving the child and making an attempt to complete the task is important.
To encourage independence :
- Allow the child to make small choices for themselves. For instance, the child can select the book s/he wants to read, clothes they want to wear.
- Make choices available to children from a set of options or alternatives.
- Involve children in making small decisions
- Encourage preschoolers to help in simple home or school activities such as putting the toys and blocks away, helping set the table, or putting away the dishes.
- Give children choices between activities
- Show the child how to do a task and let them continue with it.
- Always provide support and praise
- Avoid using negative statements or don’ts
- Provide lots of learning opportunities throughout the day.
- Ensure the surrounding and the environment is safe as young children love to explore
- Thank children when that have finished their work
- Be patient with the child as they might explore various possibilities.
Developing independence in children is an important skill. Remember, children are still children. Though they have learnt a variety of skills, the learning process is still on. Continue to provide responsibilities to children, encourage and praise them.