Learning how to raise independent children can be as easy as getting them to “do” instead of you. You can gradually stop doing so much for your kids and start preparing them for life.
I didn’t find this out until years later, but my friend thought I made my daughter do too much around the house when I was a young mom.
She thought this until she had kids of her own. Then she more than understood why I needed my daughter to help so much.
It is because being a parent is challenging, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. We need help. Even the Proverbs 31 wife had maidens to help her.
What do we have? Children, and guess what? There is a point where they can start contributing to the household.
However, having kids contribute around the house is not only to de-stress and lay off some of our burdens, although it can.
Teach your children how to contribute to developing their independence as they grow older.
My daughter’s expectation of helping me around the house proved fruitful when she called me one day from college. She told me something I thought I would never hear, nor did I expect.
She wanted to thank me for teaching her how to do so much around the house. She said her roommates didn’t like cleaning or anything else to keep the apartment tidy.
She said they couldn’t even heat some canned food, let alone make a meal for themselves. Their laundry was even taken to their mom to do on the weekend.
My daughter was grateful, and I was sobbing like a baby. See, we may never really know if what we are doing will “work” for them. We try our best, we hope, and we pray that we are training them well.
Raising independent children is also preparing them for life, preparing them to function on their own successfully. This gift of independence we give our kids is priceless and can last a lifetime.
Teaching your children independence is something that can be taught gradually. Even if you find that you have done one too many laundry loads, or cleaned up after them one too many times when you notice they may be a little lost without you… it’s still not too late.
Whether you start training them when they are young or older, here are a few things that can help us raise independent children that thrive in life:
Build independence in your little ones
Let your kids pick out their clothes.
When my 14-year-old started public school, she was a free butterfly. She was such a happy child. I bought her clothes, but I let her pick out her clothes for school (she was in public school).
Her clothing consisted of colorful leggings, a colorful shirt, and tutus. Yes, my daughter had tutus she wanted to wear over her clothes almost every day. She also had these rainbow sneaker boots that were calf-high.
Wow, she surely was something. She even got made fun of in school, yet I know this helped her be confident and independent.
Make a designated cleaning time and let them clean with you.
Children enjoy helping. Just bring them along with you. Vacuuming? Allow your young child to give it a try. If you are sweeping, buy a small broom and allow them to help or hand your child a step stool and sponge to help you with the dishes.
Hands-on learning builds their confidence until they are ready to do the chores on their own.
Let your kids help you cook.
When your kids cook beside you, they are learning so much. They learn math. They learn the sequence. They learn to follow directions. All your kids to take on little responsibilities while you cook.
Show them how to clean the veggies, mix sauces, crack the eggs, etc. When the perfect one job, show them another. You are allowing kids to learn important life skills even while they are young.
Gradually, take away or delay screen time to build an independent imagination.
We have no television. We have a screen now to play movies and games but even that we have only had for a few months.
We live on an island. Going from a T.V. in each room when we lived in America to no T.V. was one of the best things we could have done for our kids. They came here when they were 5 and 8.
My kids went from being cooped up inside watching cartoons and Disney Channel to playing outside and using their imaginations for play. It is amazing how kids can independently create ways to play with nothing but God’s creation in nature.
Let your kids play, let them play alone, let them be “bored,” and figure things out independently. This creates motivation for independent thinking.
Is it Possible to Break the Screen Habit? | Intoxicated on Life
Build independence in your older kids
Create a routine they can follow on their own.
Of course, little ones need a routine, and they also benefit from lessons on independence for routines.
However, with older kids creating a routine is a whole different experience when you follow a routine and schedule on their own. Hold them accountable for straying from their schedule or routine, but for the most part, just allow them to report to you at the end of the school day.
Of course, include age-appropriate chores in that routine to help build their independent living skills in the future.
Chores to Independence FREE Chore List | Fambalee
Let your students select some courses or provide them choices.
Kids have started to feel around at what they like and what they don’t, what they are curious about, and what they have no interest in.
I am not suggesting kids select what subjects they need to learn. That is your role, but there are some different topics they can choose to study. They can select what biographies to research or what country they want to have a next unit study.
Let your kids decide on a meal they want to learn the recipe for.
Help them if they need it, but allow your kids to make one meal every two weeks or month – even weekly if you are brave. This will do wonders when they are young adults and are hungry, trust me – from a college student’s mom.
Practical Strategies for Independent Learning | Intoxicated on Life
Help them practice problem-solving skills.
Adults have to face situations daily where problem-solving is necessary. Our children can start problem-solving now, and they can start small. The activities below are a great place to start.
17 Fun Problem Solving Activities & Games (for Kids, Adults, and Teens) | IceBreaker Ideas
Give your children choices. Allow them to choose and face the outcomes of their choices. They need to understand that their actions and decisions have consequences and don’t “save” them from consequences.
Let your kids fail. Life is not full of positives. Life is full of twists, turns, challenges, trials, joy, and happiness. Life is not life without failure; teaching our kids that failing is OK as long as they don’t give up is a valuable skill they need for a lifetime. Failing isn’t a “no” it’s a try again, or go another way, or wait on God.
Let your kids make mistakes and learn how to live with them. If you tell them not to take their $20 bill with them and they still take it and lose it. Do NOT replace that $20, as much as you would like to. Let them feel that lesson, or they won’t learn from it.
Explore some of these FREE resources and tips to help raise an independent child.
Homeschool Planner to Encourage Independent Learning | Techie Homeschool Mom
The Very Best Trick To Raise Independent Kids (FREE Checklist) | Healthy Happy Impactful
How to Teach Kids Independence and Responsibility (FREE Kids’ Checklist!) | They Call Me Blessed
Easy Step-By-Step Guide to Raise Independent Kids (FREE Printable) | The Military Wife and Mom
STOP doing that for your kids! (FREE Cleaning List) | Your Modern Family
Striving to train our kids to become more independent will help them make decisions, grow from mistakes, gain confidence, and be learners who can think independently. Raising independent children is gifting and equipping them to be respectful and self-reliant young adults. We could use more of that today.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!
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